The Memphis-Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine, a still relatively new economic development agency, was formed with a big push by the city and county mayors to streamline economic development and simply a lot of the processes therein.
Wednesday afternoon’s two-hour meeting, though, showed the board is not there yet in terms of the streamlined simplicity envisioned.
One clear example: When longtime Depot Redevelopment Corp. president Jim Covington recapped for the board his search for insurance coverage for the entity, he was only able to present one policy. The other providers he approached looked at EDGE, scratched their heads and decided the structure was too complicated to insure.
Then there’s the fact that two “pre-meetings” were held Wednesday before the EDGE board itself was able to meet. EDGE is supposed to eventually swallow a variety of local boards and agencies, but until it does, some of them are still meeting and conducting business – albeit with EDGE board members.
So, first up Wednesday was a group of people meeting as the local Depot Redevelopment Corp. Fifteen minutes later, without getting up, that same group of people convened, but this time as the Industrial Development Board.
Another 15 minutes or so later, that same group of people convened as the EDGE board.
“It’s taken us 20 minutes to get to the real meeting,” EDGE chairman Al Bright lamented at the start of the “third” meeting.
Among the matters discussed during the EDGE meeting: EDGE president Reid Dulberger talked about his plans to hire staff and find office space.