Let’s Unite to Make 2013 Very Good Year

Saturday, December 29, 2012, Vol. 6, No. 1

As we mark the transition from one year to another, let’s take a step back from the timeline of events and predictions to some ideas about the basics – our prosperity and our safety.

Just after the New Year, executives at the Electrolux plant in Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park will offer a sneak peak of their new facility.

Construction should start in February on the Bass Pro Shops super store at The Pyramid with an opening now anticipated for later in the year.

Still to come is another important discussion about how we go about seeking such economic development trophies.

In 2012, we have made important strides in the equally important task of having the workforce for the jobs that come with those trophies. Let’s find the money to keep working on that formula that gives economic development a truly local benefit that is tangible beyond those who sign the documents and vote on the incentives.

Our hope is the discussion about economic development incentives to come can be the last one in a series for a while which means it should really get at what our strategy is – not how to add more chairs at a table that is already too crowded and swap process for progress.

Settle on a plan with parts that are achievable in the most direct and simple method possible and work the plan.

And stop leaving locally owned and created businesses in the dust whenever a shiny new prospect somewhere else starts shopping for a new address. We have finite public resources for economic development. That’s why we need a plan that is a balance of local growth and the attraction of businesses from elsewhere who hire local.

Once the crime statistics for 2012 are in the books, it looks like we will have a slight increase in crime overall for the year. This comes as we have shifted from a short-term strategy to get a handle on a problem that was out of control to a longer-term strategy.

The current strategy is a realization that law enforcement should not give up any turf to crime especially in a city where the boundaries of where citizens choose to live is changing. It is also a realization that we cannot incarcerate our way to a city that is safer by both statistics and perception.

In 2013, we should start to have the difficult conversations about both parts of that strategy that we have stayed away from for too long. We made an important first step toward that discussion with the agreement between county leaders and the U.S. Justice Department on specific reforms to come at Memphis-Shelby County Juvenile Court.

The next steps should come more willingly.

These issues of prosperity and safety are more than the drivers of events in the year to come. They are the essence of our lives together in the place we call home.