Shelby’s jobless rate drops

A nearly 1 percentage point drop in Shelby County’s jobless rate was announced today by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Shelby’s unemployment rate for April was 8.3 percent, down from 9.1 percent in March.

The unemployment rate for the city of Memphis itself fell from 10.3 percent in March to 9.4 percent last month.

The April numbers are preliminary and subject to revision later.

Indie Memphis Film Festival gets some more love

The Indie Memphis Film Festival has been named one of the “Top 20 Events in the Southeast” for November by the Georgia-based Southeast Tourism Society.

That’s the third honor the festival has received since last year’s festival.

The organization was awarded a $10,000 grant by the Academy Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the organization that holds the Academy Awards, and Indie Memphis was honored by Carnival Memphis with an Award of Excellence in recognition of outstanding achievement and service to the movie & film industry and the local community.

All of that is in addition to being previously ranked one of the “25 Coolest Film Festivals” by MovieMaker magazine.

This year will mark the Indie Memphis 15th anniversary for the festival November 1 through November 4. This year, the festival also has added The Circuit Playhouse to the list of festival venues that also includes Playhouse on the Square, Malco Theatre’s Studio on the Square, and the Dorothy K. Hohenberg Auditorium at the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Calif. Residential Investors Active in Local Multifamily, too

Wednesday’s story on Meridian Pacific Properties touched on a slightly different view of the REO-to-rental housing scene in Memphis.

Formed in 2006 by technology veterans Jeffrey King and Kevin Conlon, the San Diego-based company is involved in only one other city: Memphis. Meridian entered Memphis in 2008 after analyzing all 366 of the metropolitan statistical areas nationwide.

“We’re coming at real estate very differently,” Conlon said. “For us, we’re business people taking business models, applying them to real estate; as opposed to coming up through ranks of real estate and never having been in business. The way we market our properties is very data-driven, it’s very quantitative, a lot of statistical analysis and so forth that you don’t commonly see in real estate.”

But the partners aren’t just involved in the city’s residential real estate market. They’re involved in multifamily, too.

“My partner Jeff and I also are part of a group that owns the Park Tower Apartments – a nine-story high-rise that’s right across the street from the VA hospital Downtown,” Conlon said. “It’s a different business entirely than Meridian. We bought the property, we renovated it, and we’re holding it as an investment for the long term.”

Memphis Medical Redevelopment Group LLC acquired Park Tower, 57 Somerville St., in September 2009 for $1.7 million, according to the Shelby County Register of Deeds. Permanent financing for $3 million was arranged in March by Rick Wood of Financial Federal though its correspondent, American Equity Investment Life Insurance Co.

Built in 1957, the Class D apartment hi-rise spans 95,727 square feet and has a 2012 appraisal of $1.6 million, according to the Shelby County Assessor of Property.

Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir, and the Laffer Curve

While addressing the Memphis Rotary Club earlier this month, Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir told the crowd that “higher taxes don’t always equate to increased revenue.”

The county trustee – whose remarks came at a time when both the city and county governments are trying to wrap up their latest fiscal year budgets – was describing an economic concept known as the Laffer Curve.

It can be illustrated in the form of a parabola. There are three important points on that parabola. Two of the points are at both the ends. Say a government decides to collect zero percent in taxes from its citizens. Now say that government chooses to collect 100 percent.

At both of those rates, the government probably won’t be collecting any money. The reason why is obvious at zero percent. At 100 percent, no one would probably show up for work the next day, if all their money goes to the government.

Here’s the third important point on that parabola. Presumably, there is some mid-point on the curve where the government is collecting the maximum amount of money it can. Any rate past that point, and it starts becoming more and more counterproductive (people move, shift their income to avoid taxation, etc).

That’s what Lenoir was referring to. Here’s how he continued:

“I think sometimes elected officials forget the fact that as they increase taxes that money is mobile. And they wonder why folks are leaving the city and going to the county or leaving the county and going to the surrounding counties. The reality is increasing tax rates is not the answer.”

Rhodes Professor ‘Will Miss’ Memphis

Art Carden has ended his six-year-stint as an assistant professor of economics and business at Rhodes College, his first academic job out of grad school.

A contributor to Forbes, Carden recently compiled the things he’ll miss most about Memphis for the publication that often ranks it “miserable.”

Carden has also been a valuable source for The Daily News and The Memphis News, speaking candidly against the Transportation Security Administration during the November 2010 body scan scandal and recently providing his viewpoints on Austrian economics.

Thanks for your contributions to Rhodes College and to Memphis, Art, and best wishes on that new Birmingham gig and child #3.