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VOL. 128 | NO. 77 | Friday, April 19, 2013

Bryce to Keep 318 Workers in Memphis

By Andy Meek

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A packaging maker for retail brands like Frito-Lay and General Mills is getting a tax incentive worth $3 million to keep 318 workers in Memphis and add 95 new employees as part of a $21 million expansion here.

The city-county EDGE board this week approved an 11-year retention PILOT (payment-in-lieu-of-taxes) for Bryce Corp., which has plans to invest new equipment at its facilities in Memphis. The company was founded in 1969 and manufactures packaging for some of the world’s largest retail brands.

The expansion will create almost $19.5 million in new tax revenue for Memphis and Shelby County governments while saving Bryce $3 million in taxes.

The project is the latest on what EDGE officials said this week is a long list of economic development projects approved since the agency was formed 18 months ago, when it started consolidating the authority over local tax incentives.

As this week’s EDGE meeting got underway, EDGE officials took stock of the group’s efforts thus far, coinciding with the release of the body’s first progress report. To date, according to that report, EDGE’s work has helped create or retain more than 5,900 jobs and $1 billion in capital investment.

The agency also has created a digital archive of more than 2,400 files detailing economic development projects that date back to 1989. And EDGE PILOT projects from 2012 to 2013 generated $386 million in new local revenue.

The body wanted to release its first-ever progress report to highlight the work it has done to streamline economic development and add new tools to grow the local economy, said EDGE information specialist Trey Heath.

“The report highlights every PILOT EDGE has approved, noting the significant economic impact of each project, but it also covers the new financial tools, small business programs and transparency policies EDGE has created,” Heath said.

For example, in conjunction with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr.’s Innovation Delivery Team, EDGE has launched a so-called “economic gardening” trial program to provide high-level consulting to growth-oriented small businesses.

With Wharton, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and FedEx general counsel Christine Richards, EDGE also launched the Memphis and Shelby County Regional Economic Development Plan in partnership with the Brookings Institution.

EDGE started its existence with no staff and no office. In August 2011, EDGE assumed its current responsibilities by combining the city-county Industrial Development Board along with several other agencies.

In January 2012, EDGE got a president and CEO. Reid Dulberger was tapped after about 150 people applied for the job, and after Luttrell and Wharton personally interviewed the top five. EDGE began to take even more shape in March 2012, when the first staff members were hired and the agency got temporary office space donated by Boyle Investment Co.

EDGE relocated in September 2012 to permanent office space at 100 Peabody Place. EDGE’s 5,000-square-foot space there, which has welcomed local government officials, Fortune 500 executives and economic development officials from around the country, houses eight employees and three conference rooms.

In early 2013, the state’s local economic and community development office relocated into EDGE’s office.

“In the short term, we will continue to improve the payment-in-lieu-of-tax program, grow our finance programs, launch more small-business development resources, and complete the Memphis and Shelby County Regional Economic Development Plan,” the progress report reads.

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