» Subscribe Today!
More of what you want to know.
The Daily News
X

Forgot your password?
TDN Services
Research millions of people and properties [+]
Monitor any person, property or company [+]

Skip Navigation LinksHome >
VOL. 133 | NO. 49 | Thursday, March 8, 2018

EDGE Chairman Responds to Chamber Criticism

By Patrick Lantrip

Print | Front Page | Email this story | Email reporter | Comments ()

A March 1 meeting of City Council and County Commission members who questioned the respective roles of the Greater Memphis Chamber and EDGE in recruiting new jobs to Memphis has prompted another response.

View the full letter

In response to an email addressed to the Memphis City Council and Shelby County Commission by Greater Memphis Chamber chairman Richard Smith about his organization’s role in economic development, Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County Chairman Al Bright Jr. penned his own letter to the two governmental bodies defending his organization.

“At last Thursday’s joint session of the County Commission and City Council, the Members discussed, among other topics, efforts to grow our local economy,” Bright wrote in an email obtained by The Daily News. “These discussions are needed and welcomed. Our community has many opportunities, but also many challenges. It is critically important that we work together to ‘get economic development right.’”

Bright’s letter was in response to Smith’s email that became public Wednesday, March 7 calling for, among other things, a “dynamic salesperson” at the helm of EDGE.

View the full document

In an attempt to “clarify” the roles the two organizations play in promoting local economic development, Bright attached a copy of a June 20, 2014, agreement between EDGE and the Chamber outlining their respective responsibilities.

“Among other things the Memphis Chamber was identified as the ‘lead entity for business attraction,’” Bright’s letter said. “EDGE is responsible for creating, managing, and improving public resource programs – such as Foreign Trade Zone 77, bonds, local tax incentives (i.e., PILOTs and TIFs), and various loan programs, while representing the City of Memphis and Shelby County governments on economic development issues.”

Bright said that when the agreement was drafted, EDGE, which was founded in 2011, was still a young organization and added that it may be time to reexamine the two organizations' roles.

“We agree with those who say it may now be appropriate to revisit the respective roles of the two organizations,” Bright wrote. “To the extent that the Memphis Chamber does not want lead our community efforts in business attraction, we can certainly work to resolve this issue.”

Bright also went on to defend the work that EDGE has done since its inception.

“For example, when EDGE was created we inherited an 11-page PILOT application and a PILOT scoring system that included 34 different variables. While well-intentioned, that level of bureaucracy was counter-productive and made us less competitive. Today, we use a three-page application and focus on seven key variables to evaluate a project.”

He also cited some of the new tax incentive programs EDGE has created to generate more industry, such as the Community Builder, Residential and Fast Track PILOTs (payment in lieu of taxes), as well as incorporating the use of TIFs (tax increment financing).

“As a result of these efforts, EDGE has approved 122 projects since August of 2011 that have committed to creating and retaining nearly 17,000 jobs with an average annual salary of $72,000. Additionally, these projects committed to invest more than $3.4 billion in Memphis and Shelby County and spend nearly $500 million with certified minority, women and locally-owned small businesses.”

In conclusion, Bright said that economic development in the city is a “team sport” that requires all parties working together to achieve a common goal.

RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 0 133 1,342
MORTGAGES 0 131 1,047
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 0 19 170
BUILDING PERMITS 28 305 3,056
BANKRUPTCIES 25 98 716
BUSINESS LICENSES 4 26 302
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 0 0 0
MARRIAGE LICENSES 0 0 0