Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam had some good news for Memphis during his visit Tuesday to the University of Memphis campus, a day after he addressed the Volunteer State with his 2013 State of the State.
"I tell people all the time there's more encouragement out of Memphis, than almost there is anywhere else because of the way the community has come together to take on big issues," Gov. Haslam said.
The U of M is not the only spot set to see big money, because the University of Tennessee Health Science Center could see even more as the governor wants to use $66.5 million to upgrade three buildings there.
"They're in facilities that are, is it too bad to say they're embarrassing," Gov. Haslam said. "They have long needed the renovation that's going to happen here."
In total, the city will see nearly $124 million in local university upgrades.
Goodlett Avenue, which dead ends, is going to be opened up bringing with up much easier access to the new 200,000-square-foot building which is going to be built. Upwards of 1,100 students are going to spend their days in the new structure and while this is going to be big news for the university, University of Memphis President Dr. Shirley Raines said she won't be the only one smiling though because it all trickles right down to the community and the local economy.
"We can graduate more nurses, more speech pathologists, and more audiologists, where are there are jobs in all of these professions and great need," Dr. Raines said.
Gov. Haslam agreed, saying there's a huge demand for U of M nursing grads, and the new building just makes sense.
"Too many times in the past in higher ed, we've funded things that the market wasn't necessarily telling us that we needed," the governor said. "In this a case where there's a direct link and I think it will help the economy in Memphis. It will help the University of Memphis and it will help us as a state."
New money is not part of every project the governor has planned. He wants to shut down the Donnelly J. Hill state office building that is located in the Civic Center Plaza downtown. Gov. Haslam said the 900 employed there shouldn't worry as they'll keep their jobs and just be moved to a better spot downtown.