The year 2013 may be the year that reality took a turn for the better without giving up its status as reality.
Economically, no rampant irrational exuberance in which bubbles have been known to get very big and send shrapnel everywhere when they inevitably burst. But there was some improvement to build on, tempered a great deal by a local unemployment rate that is more stubborn than the national rate.
It remains to be seen if the wave of innovation and incubators that are launching lots of exciting new smaller businesses will or can be sustained. Our suspicion is that some of the efforts won’t and can’t. But our hope is that the solid ideas that can be brought to scale will take root.
Talking about the city’s history of business innovation as a general pattern for the future is much easier than replicating it.
Probably some time in March, we should begin to see the transformation of the old Sears Crosstown building begin, which is the kind of reality we hope to see more of. It will take about two years to complete now that the financing is complete.
The end of 2014 is the latest target date for the long-delayed opening of Bass Pro Shops in The Pyramid. One way or another, we will be talking about The Pyramid at this point in 2014.
We will also be talking about what should be a banner election year, which in August will feature the longest ballot in Shelby County political history. The question is will the turnout be as big as the ballot.
The reality of elections in Shelby County since 1994, with the exception of Presidential general elections, suggests none of the three elections in 2014 will cause even half of the voters who could vote to actually vote.
While this is an election year for Shelby County officials, basic long-term fiscal problems at City Hall could easily overshadow the election of a new majority on the Shelby County Commission with seven incumbents not seeking re-election.
It is City Hall that we feel is most in need of a reality that includes the setting of some kind of goals and priorities that reflect a straight path to a solid financial underpinning that will stop the shell game of moving money around as kindling to start high visibility projects that aren’t sustainable but look good in the short term.
In 2014, we foresee more choices for parents of all school-age children than have ever existed before. And more competition to teach those children than ever before. We also should have a better grasp in 2014, in terms of data, of specific school reforms that can be sustained and which need more work or need to be dropped entirely.
It is here that we have seen some headway against a still grim reality and cause for the brightest hope in the year 2014.