I recently attended a meeting in Memphis where most of the persons attending were from other areas of Tennessee (“middle” and “east” Tennessee). I was surprised and somewhat angered by some of the anti-Shelby County metro area comments, some valid, some just malicious comments that come from ignorance.
I assume my reaction was as member of the Shelby County Metro Area “family”-members can criticize all they want, but we get upset when an outsider criticizes us, especially unjustly! Perhaps some of my reaction was also that the persons criticizing were from areas with similar problems and I had a “take care of your own problems before criticizing us” reaction.
This same week, I was pleased to see that, unlike some areas, the Shelby County Metro Area works hard to improve what are perceived as weak areas. I have always been pleased by the attitude of area residents to criticize but also try to fix the problems!
I was unaware until this week of efforts by two Shelby County Metro Area organizations to substantially improve the metro area:
-The Workforce Investment Network program (WIN), under the direction of new Executive Director Jim Russell, is becoming a significant positive asset for new and existing businesses. The most prevalent criticism of the Memphis Metro Area I have heard from new businesses and industry is the lack of a trained work force.
I learned that WIN is making significant strides in providing training for area (this includes a county in addition to Shelby County) residents for all types of businesses.
Also, the office provides testing for the “Career Readiness Certificate”, a “certificate” that indicates the residents has passed a test certifying they have reached certain standards in Applied Math, Reading for Information and Locating Information. There are three levels, of the Career Readiness Certificate, Bronze, Silver and Gold. It is my understanding the test can be correlated with training to upgrade the weak areas.
This provides a standard for businesses to use in hiring new employees and also provides a credential for persons seeking jobs to provide as proof of their qualifications.
I was pleased to hear about the progress of this program. This program will help both residents (by providing training and improved chances of a job) and businesses by provided a qualified work force.
Shelby County Mayor Wharton has been a major force in encouraging and developing the improvement of these services.
By the way, I wanted to mention how friendly and helpful the personnel at the WIN program office are. In addition to the main offices in downtown Memphis, there are also five satellite offices in the Shelby County/Fayette County area.
More information is available at http://www.memphiscareercenter.com/, or by calling 901-545-2240.
-The ArtsMemphis program is a major effort to improve and improve support of the “arts” in the Memphis area. Memphis arts and activities are important to Lakeland residents since it directly impacts our quality of life.
I was surprised to learn of the impact of the arts in Memphis-it not only is quality of life it also is good business to support the arts! Also, it directly benefits Lakeland residents by providing our residents who want to advance in the arts with local opportunities that aren’t found in many areas.
I was impressed enough that I decided to personally support ArtsMemphis as I feel it is a major asset to Lakeland, and, as a Lakeland resident, I appreciate the extensive availability of the arts in this area.
You can learn more about ArtsMemphis at http://www.artsmemphis.org/. This site contains information about all area arts. (I was especially interested in the “Peanut Butter and Jam Festival” at the Germantown Arts Centre, until I found it was for children ages 3-8! Still a great idea, just I won't be attending for myself unless my 5 and 8 year old Granddaughters come to visit!)
I have to admire Shelby County, Lakeland (and nearby county) residents-instead of spending time putting down and criticizing other Tennessee areas, we are working to improve our quality of life. There are many more such efforts, and I am mentioning these two because they are large scale efforts that I was not really aware of until this week. The http://www.artsmemphis.org/ is especially informative on what is going on in the Shelby County area.