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VOL. 7 | NO. 33 | Saturday, August 9, 2014

Editorial: Economic Woes Pose Questions for Memphis

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It may be gone. But the recession sure took its time in departing after taking a heavy toll on economic development in Memphis. And some of us aren’t sure it has totally left the premises, especially in a city that is watching as other parts of the state are rebounding and recovering at a much quicker pace than Memphis.

What we see happening around us has led to a much-needed re-examination of the core beliefs that have underpinned our economic development strategy for a long time.

To some extent, we’ve played the game based on what those around us are doing with too little thought put into what it is we really want in terms of growth for our community. The question missing too often has been what is this realistically going to do for Memphians.

That’s the question that can also be asked about the recovery of such big-ticket items like The Horizon, the riverfront condo tower begun in 2007 and on which construction stopped abruptly in 2009.

The Horizon is a new part of the city’s south skyline and any city cares about its skyline. But sometimes we think about the view more than what these new and restored parts of the skyline mean at ground level.

The momentum builds from one project to the next and it can be contagious enough that before you know it, you’ve got a bubble like the housing bubble that burst during the recession.

There was more to the bubble bursting than that and it happened everywhere.

But in the recovery, which in the case of Memphis is a fragile recovery, there is an opportunity to give more thought to what we are bringing back to life.

As the recession hit, most of the apartment buildings in Downtown’s core had gone condo.

We have done more than talk in recent years about the need to make Memphis a place where new ideas can be birthed and innovation find its way into the market. We’ve built a whole nest of organizations and networks that we hope will not only encourage innovation but encourage our own to stay in Memphis and bring others to Memphis as they consider where they want to live and work.

How much people pay to live in places like the Horizon, Chisca and Crosstown is driven by the market. And what were condo plans before the recession are almost always adapted post-recession to become apartments – new apartments to be sure.

We are confident these developments will realize the need to balance a financial return with the goal of drawing new life and innovation to all areas of the city. The mix of who peoples these places and areas is just as crucial as the financing to their future growth. There should be room for those on their way as well as those already there.

PROPERTY SALES 103 137 4,008
MORTGAGES 84 131 4,521
BUILDING PERMITS 178 368 9,636
BANKRUPTCIES 50 110 2,995