Photo: Downtown Memphis Commission
Dozens of Memphians gathered earlier this week at the Memphis Medical District Collaborative’s inaugural meetup to recap progress from the last year and what is still ahead for the District.
The MMDC is a community development organization focusing on four key programs for the district by improving public space, coordinating safety and security, programming and marketing, and facilitating community development. Over the past year, the MMDC has made huge steps in developing the district to reach these goals. Some of which include streetscape improvements, creating new public spaces, district-wide clean ups, and attracting new retail.
Tommy Pacello, President of MMDC, spoke on the first year’s progress and introduced speakers to discuss the different components that have gone into the MMDC this past year and what to look forward to for the future.
Community & Development
MMDC has worked to further the development of small businesses, residential projects, and community engagement as well as recruit more businesses to continue the District’s growth. They are also working with small businesses on providing assistance through pre-development grants in order to fulfill the community’s full potential. The Edge Alley is one of the successes that the District has had through pre-development grants. It has brought more life to its specific area of the District through its café and retailers.
At the meetup, Lisa Toro, co-owner of City & State, revealed that this year, City & State has received a pre-development grant to add a location called City & State Cycle Shop to the Medical District on Monroe Ave. Similar to its other location, it will have a coffee bar, a full bar, small kitchen and retail when the project is complete. The idea is for the shop to give the District a coffee community to bring more people in within the District and outside as well.
Operation Opportunity Challenge
Last year MMDC and EPIcenter launched a business plan competition allowing young entrepreneurs to present a business plan for strengthening the city of Memphis. Erica Plybeah’s MedHaul plan was amongst the winners of the competition. MedHaul is a software application designed to make the transportation for patients faster, easier, and more efficient for them. The idea is to work with existing medical transportation providers to help service this within the Medical District and the city of Memphis.
In 2016 the District hired nine MMD Ambassadors to focus their attention on keeping the District clean. This ranges from simple trash and litter pickup to graffiti removal. The District has also implemented creative landscaping and recycling to improve areas upkeep and to help the community go green.
Public space upgrades and improvements have made a large impact within the community as well. MMDC sees that public spaces can create opportunities for neighborhoods to be more livable. One of the biggest improvements is the intersection of Marshall and Monroe in the Edge neighborhood which invites more pedestrian activity and has created more opportunity for public art displays. These improvements make the District more walkable and bikeable for Memphians which has produced groups like the Freewheelers who meet to bike through different areas of Memphis.
Safety & Security
With these improvements happening, safety and security has also been a top priority for the MMDC. They made moves to creating safer environment to for people in the community by strategically placing cameras and adding street lighting within the District.
MMDC also works closely with the law enforcement that is within the District like MPD, UT Health Science Center Police, and Southwest Tennessee Community College Police to collect data on criminal activity in the area to use in their tactics to keep the community safe.
Programming & Marketing
Along with being active on social media platforms, in 2016, the MMDC held 18 different events that promoted the District and why other Memphians should want to be a part of it. These events not only invited people out into the community, but also created awareness of the District and how it can impact the community.
In addition to these events, MMDC partnered with the Downtown Memphis Commission to produce the Freewheel slow rides series where people explored the Medical District and different parts of the city on bikes with friends. The program was so successful that it was launched again this spring.