Paul Young named president and CEO of Downtown Memphis Commission

Updated: Mar. 19, 2021 at 6:30 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Downtown Memphis Commission has named Memphian Paul Young as its new president and CEO.

Young has many connections to the city, including his current role as the Director of Housing and Community Development for the City of Memphis. “As far at the transition from HCD to the Downtown Memphis Commission, I view the opportunity to advance our community as teamwork. So we’re all working on a team to try to move Memphis and Shelby County ahead and while I’m changing positions on the team, I’m still on the team.”

Young has an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and two masters degrees from the University of Memphis in both Urban Planning and Business Administration.

Young says he wants to learn the lay of the land when he starts his new job April 1st, “The first thing I want to do when I take over is to walk the streets of downtown and meet the people. I want to meet the business owners, I want to meet the neighborhood leaders and really understand what their challenges are so that we can really assess what our next actions need to be as an agency to ensure that we’re serving the needs of the people in this community.”

Young led various initiatives for the city, including the relocation of the Books Museum, the Downtown Tourism Development Zone and the $30 million capital investment for the South City Choice Neighborhoods.

The mayor gave Young his blessings, “Over my five-plus years as mayor, Paul has been an invaluable leader of our Division of Housing and Community Development. He has been instrumental in the development of quality affordable housing, including South City and Tillman Cove; our investments in long-forgotten treasures, like Historic Melrose High School and Collins Chapel; the community effort to reduce homelessness; and the establishment of the City’s first-ever Affordable Housing Trust Fund,” said Mayor Jim Strickland. “While I hate that Paul is leaving us, I’m more than thrilled to know his talents will still be used to create an even better Memphis through his leadership at the Downtown Memphis Commission.”

The DMC chose Young after a national search, “Paul’s proven leadership skills, his commitment to consensus-building throughout the community, and his personal dedication to building a stronger Memphis will benefit Downtown and all Memphians in a way few people could,” said Board Chair Deni Reilly.

He is confident community collaboration will help downtown thrive post-pandemic with several construction projects underway. “We have momentum and it was very evident in downtown. A lot of that construction activity has continued through the pandemic in anticipation of this vaccine really taking hold and people being able to get used to the new normal. I do think that the growth will continue in that. We just have to keep our foot on the gas. We have to continue to find opportunities to maximize the growth that’s happening right now.”

When asked about the prospect of a downtown grocery store, Young says a grocery will come in due time. “I firmly believe that we will have a grocery store one day. I think there still needs to be some work done to figure out what the right site will be. I know that there’s likely some interest and so I’m optimistic that one will happen although I’m hesitant to say a timeline.”

He tells WMC Action News 5 he up to the task of leading downtown Memphis into the future, after the crippling impact of the pandemic. “I think we all see light at the end of the tunnel with the vaccine being out, but the businesses need relief now. We know the federal government has done a lot to put out different programs and initiatives to ensure that businesses are able to recover and now, we have to get people back downtown.  So once it’s safe for people to return, we want to make sure that we are able to do that for the businesses that are located here.”

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