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VOL. 7 | NO. 31 | Saturday, July 26, 2014

Editorial: City Needs Better Ways to Attract, Retain Talent

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Perhaps there is a new type of metric we should be exploring in our effort to draw and retain those in their 20s and 30s to make Memphis their city.

We submit what is missing thus far in this difficult work is an ease factor that young professionals are finding in other cities.

That doesn’t mean serving up the city on a silver platter with a golden key. Memphis is never going to be that easy.

But there is a real need to get to the basics and strip away the barriers in these vital discussions and events. We need to be better at figuring out the limits of promoting every conceivable cause in the wind at a single event. And instead of a reading aloud of the ground rules for Memphis, it’s time to listen more to the reasons why some rules work and some don’t, no matter how long they’ve been in the unwritten book of Memphis.

Those returning to their hometown, those finding a new hometown in Memphis or those just stopping here on the way to somewhere else have one thing in common. Livability. They are looking for a place that gives them room to be who they are.

It is inconceivable that a city with the history of innovation that Memphis has would crowd someone on that very point. But we do that in too many cases because the history of innovation has become the gospel of Memphis – an oversimplified version of Memphis in which “rules” from sweet tea to how to pronounce Elvis’ last name get entirely too much attention.

Put it on BuzzFeed.

We’ve talked before in this space about not glossing over the challenges and complexity of Memphis. And we stand by that. But our civic efforts are needlessly rooted in the practices of another century that are a challenge of endurance before the real challenges.

We have to make that part of our effort look and feel easier. The short attention span so many of us who are older complain about isn’t always a fault. Sometimes it’s a pretty accurate indicator of the value of what is being presented and the lack of a direct approach.

Our efforts need to be more consistent in finding new and unheard voices with a needed perspective on our city in the here and now and its relationship to the rest of the world.

The black arts discussion at the recent opening of Hattiloo Theatre was a stellar example of a dialogue with bold ideas and provocative opinions that was about us in broader context.

Remarks by filmmaker Craig Brewer at the New Memphis Institute is another example of someone with a perspective on Memphis that those of and in our city want to hear.

Let’s do it more in as many ways as possible – in small gatherings, large events and the intimacy of the written word.

PROPERTY SALES 83 405 4,276
MORTGAGES 104 424 4,814
BUILDING PERMITS 148 883 10,151
BANKRUPTCIES 53 264 3,149