Wednesday's mayoral job forum was one of the most-well attended local events I've been to in a long time.
The parking lot of the Benjamin Hooks central library was completely full, with the overflow spilling into the shopping center next door, and the forum itself was standing-room only.
But with a local unemployment rate of 10 percent, it's not all that surprising.
Panelists talked about entrepreneurship, the PILOT program, and trying to educate a future workforce that is "unprepared," but many of the attendees seemed like they were more interested in finding a job for themselves.
To that end, panelist TaJaun Stout Mitchell gave an update on ongoing stimulus projects. Of the local projects, 76 percent of them are less than 50 percent complete, and there are 38 projects that have not yet been started. For more, visit recovery.gov.
"Unfortunately with any project of this size, it comes from Washington to Nashville to the local government," she said. "There is a challenge of the lag time."
Mark Yates with Methodist LeBonheur Healthcare also mentioned about 170 to 200 new jobs — from low-level environmental services to specialized nursing — for the new LeBonheur facility at Poplar and Yates.
After several questions from the audience, Memphis mayor A C Wharton said the city would be doing something more after the second wave of stimulus money.
"This is Job Forum.1 or whatever they call it these days," he said.