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Honing our EDGE

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell told a gathering of area business leaders Tuesday night at the office of Glankler Brown PLLC that he hopes the new joint city-county economic development program gets rolling by this summer.

If government leaders keep to that schedule in building the new entity they’re calling the EDGE (which stands for Economic Development Growth Engine, but this thing is also supposed to give us an “edge” in business recruitment and retention, get it?) it would be a major step forward for the city and county.

Both of which have borne much criticism in recent years that they’re not business-friendly enough. That taxes are too high. There are too many government entities to appear before if I as a business owner want to pursue a vision. And on. And on.

A former Memphis chamber official said at Tuesday night’s event that a lot of the corporate relocations Memphis has recently landed took some hard work that sometimes went down to the wire, but that something like the EDGE would make us more competitive.

The presence of the new economic development entity – with a staff and president that can run point between companies and all the myriad government agencies and officials in the city and county – would presumably do the heavy lifting in the future on projects like the Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc. (MEPPI) development of a new electric power transformer factory in the city.

As detailed in this article from the March issue of Site Selection Magazine, Memphis had to overcome a big hurdle to MEPPI completing its plant in Memphis – specifically, it was the bad taste in MEPPI’s mouth left by an early 2010 Forbes article slamming Memphis.

I wrote an article for The Daily News last month detailing the great lengths to which the Greater Memphis Chamber went to push back against the Forbes article – at MEPPI’s request.

Chamber senior vice president Mark Herbison told me the project consultant called the chamber and said unless the chamber could refute the article in a specific and detailed way, it was probably the end of the line.

So the chamber prepared a splashy booklet refuting the Forbes article point by point.

“In five days, they provided a document that I consider one of the best-focused project impact pieces of information that I’ve gotten from an economic development agency,” Mark Sweeney, principal at site selection consulting firm McCallum Sweeney, told Site Selection Magazine.

Just imagine what kind of strides the city could make if there was another group of people enlisted in this effort who do nothing else but that full time.

Dansette

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