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VOL. 133 | NO. 83 | Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Letter to the Editor: Beyond PILOTs – Thinking Big and National Leadership

Joe Kent, consultant, Career Pathways

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Responsible tax incentives for economic development are without a doubt part of the equation in primarily closing the deal in recruiting new industry to Memphis.

But are tax incentives enough and are they a differentiator in providing a value proposition for new economic development? Probably not, because most communities if not all offer tax incentives.

So getting beyond tax incentives likely involves thinking big and differentiating ourselves from the competition with a value proposition.

So what might a such a differentiating value proposition look like? Well it would need to be something that serves existing employers needs so that our existing tax base is retained and grows with new company expansions.

A Nation Leading Career Education initiative could be the ticket that addresses poverty, existing employer and economic development needs for industry recruitment while developing and retaining youthful talent.

Thinking in terms of National Leadership is something that Memphis seems to have refrained from since becoming America’s distribution center some years ago. Now the community, heavy on warehousing jobs with a youthful population and workforce development needs looks to grow and diversify with a focus on back office and manufacturing jobs.

National Leadership in Career Education could very well be the key to achieving those desired diversification and economic growth outcomes.

While National Leadership in academic education is likely unattainable for Memphis like most communities, National Leadership in Career Education with the right plan not only is attainable but probable if implementation occurs.

The right plan would focus local efforts on aligning the academic curriculum and systematic promotion of in demand career pathways with employer skill and knowledge demand while certifying students with employer credentials that are widely recognized. Expeditious implementation of the initiative could occur as early as this Summer School Session.

As we await the publication of a new economic development plan, moving forward based on known workforce development needs while leveraging our youthful population with a think big National Career Education agenda may be the catalyst Memphis needs.

After all, we can’t go wrong as many communities battle an aging workforce and employers demand career readiness in meeting their business growth and expansion needs.

In the end, given the workforce needs of employers, leading with “We in Memphis are the National Leaders in Career Education” is likely the value proposition many companies are looking for in shaping their strategic growth plans.

And its also a beacon that can serve Memphis well in meeting their youthful population and growth needs for years to come.

Joe Kent, consultant, Career Pathways

PROPERTY SALES 53 210 10,146
MORTGAGES 53 214 11,160
BUILDING PERMITS 245 474 22,646
BANKRUPTCIES 271 271 6,490