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A new plan is underway in South Memphis

by Paula Anderson

As Memphis and other cities deal with the challenges of a pandemic, one local neighborhood is on a path of transformation.

On Sept. 24, J.W. Gibson, chief executive officer and chairman of Southeast Regional Development Corporation, announced a partnership with Shelby County Mayor’s Office along with local and state legislators, philanthropic leaders and neighborhood groups to transform an urban community.

According to the press release,“When I ran to serve as County Mayor, I pledged to drive a conversation about investment in students, people in poverty, and neighborhoods. Today, I support this minority-led development team,” said County Mayor Lee Harris.

South Memphis is the target location for redevelopment and it is recognized as a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. “Tax generated by residents in the area will be reinvested in South Memphis to address crumbling infrastructure, depreciating neighborhood values, and educational supports for our youngest residents,” stated in the press release.

Nonprofit organizations, local and state legislators are named in the press release as supporters of the project.

Courtesy Photo of Code Crew, Inc.

One of the partners, Code Crew Inc., will have resources for residents in the redevelopment plan.

Meka Egwuekwe, executive director of Code Crew said, “This is an opportunity for kids and adults in this community to learn about computer science.”

“We will be able to offer classes for adults who need more flexible hours for training. This is the first of several plans to increase access to tech careers in neighborhoods across Memphis,” said Egwuekwe.

According to the United Negro College Fund website, African-Americans are underrepresented in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

Statistics reveal that only 4.2 percent of bachelor’s degrees in 2012 were attained by blacks compared to 68.1 percent by whites based on a report from The Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions, according to the website.

Roger Brown, senior pastor of Greater Whitestone Baptist Church, was approached by Gibson about the project.

Brown, who has been serving as senior pastor since 2010, hosted a leadership conference on the campus of the University of Memphis Fogelman Center to focus on the vision of the church.

The conference was held to create a new community landscape. Brown said, “A Blank Canvas was utilized to envision how the church can provide services like senior housing, affordable housing, and youth recreational facilities.”

Courtesy Photo - Greater White Stone Baptist Church Website

According to Brown, the church has been in the South Memphis community for 95 years and surveys were done in the community to hear and prioritize the needs and projects.

The project is based on a ‘seed’ that was planted into the minds and hearts of the church’s leadership 10 years ago.

While the project is in the infancy stages, it is open for other entities to join in the transformation and redevelopment of a neighborhood where the poverty rate is 61 percent in 38126 and 41 percent in 38106, according to the 2019 Poverty Report published by Dr. Elena Delavega.

To learn more about the project, contact J.W. Gibson at

Paula Anderson is a journalist. To learn more visit

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