VOL. 114 | NO. 98 | Friday, May 19, 2000
By Stacey Wiedower
Southaven next site
for regional forum
By Stacey Wiedower
The Daily News
A study designed as a "road map" to carry the Memphis region into the future will be discussed at a public forum between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Monday at the DeSoto Center, 5197 W.E. Ross Parkway in Southaven.
The Governors Alliance for Regional Excellence is an 18-month initiative that began early last year to address the Arkansas-Mississippi-Tennessee regions place in the global economy and create a framework for future development.
Mondays forum will provide an overview of the study thus far, said Kathy Simonetti, vice president of business services for the Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce and project administrator.
"Weve been collecting information specifically for a nine-county area, but also collecting information in about a 75-mile radius, and this information will be in visuals for the community to see," Simonetti said.
The event will mark the last of three such forums. One was set in each of the regions three states.
Michael Gallis, principal of Michael Gallis & Associates, will speak at the forum. Michael Gallis & Associates is a strategic planning firm based in Charlotte, N.C., that has participated in the development of regional strategies for cities around the country, including Boston, Detroit and Cincinnati.
The project is entering the fourth of five stages, which include project organization, information gathering, analysis, conclusions and evaluation.
A goal of the alliance is to create a "regional template" based on an inventory of the regions economic and social assets, including transportation infrastructure, commercial centers of retail and employment, higher educational institutions, cultural amenities and town centers, according to Chamber officials.
This template will provide a tool for lawmakers, developers and businesses to use in making decisions about regional growth and financial planning.
"We are looking at these assets on a region-wide basis, rather than by state or county or area," said Larry Jensen, president of Commercial Tennessee and chairman of the Alliances 36-member steering committee.
"People need to think this way: the city of Atlanta contains 450,000 people, but when people say Atlanta, what do they think about? Its an 18-county region. If were going to compete with Atlanta or other metropolitan areas, we have to look beyond our traditional ways of thinking about the community.
"The last time I flew into the airport, I looked out the window, and I didnt see the state line down there."
This summer, project coordinators will continue to gather information and begin working on a draft for a sourcebook, which will detail the results of the Alliances work.
"There will be some field work done and additional data will be collected from outlying areas," Simonetti said. "Then, that will all be combined into a very visual document that will be rolled out in September."
The sourcebook will detail how the Memphis region fits together, not just from a local perspective but from a global one, she added.
Information will include the Memphis regions function and role in the global economy, how its different facets make up the regional economy and how each area including West Tennessee, Eastern Arkansas and North Mississippi contributes to the region.
"It provides a framework that can be used by any community within the region," Simonetti said. "Our goal is for the communities to have this book and to be able to show their potential prospects the region, the advantages of being located in the region, as well as where they are in the region and what they contribute."
"Were hoping it will be a universal tool that anyone in the region will be able to use," she added.