Pinnacle Airlines Corp. employees were welcomed with open arms this morning at the site of the company’s future Downtown corporate headquarters.
Pinnacle shuttled approximately 500 employees Downtown, led by a police-escorted motorcade, to the lobby of One Commerce Square, 40 S. Main St., for a celebration of their entrance into the community.
The pep rally included balloons and goodie bags galore, refreshments, and brief remarks from an impressive range of officials such as Governor Phil Bredeson, Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and Congressman Steve Cohen.
Cohen said that when he goes to Nashville, Downtown is more active in the day than it is at night, which is the complete opposite for Memphis, which has a big nightlife. Pinnacle’s Downtown presence will help tremendously with adding daytime presence, he said.
Wharton said his job was simple when it came his turn to take the podium.
“Welcome to the neighborhood!” he exclaimed. “You are at home!”
He even quoted an old Johnnie Taylor song: “I’ve seen the golden gates of San Francisco, and I’ve seen the lights of Broadway too, but in this whole wide world, there’s nothing quite as beautiful as you. Pinnacle, it’s great to have you!”
Jim McGehee, chairman emeritus of the Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority and Pinnacle board member, said today was one for the history books.
“For the Downtown community and for Pinnacle Airlines, this is a win-win day,” said McGehee.
Many speeches addressed the positive affect Pinnacle’s addition of 600 new employees to the Downtown market will have on nearby restaurants, businesses, etc.
But if employees don’t feel like traveling far on an empty stomach, they will have options within the building, too.
Karl Schledwitz, chairman and CEO of Monogram Food Solutions and partner with One Commerce Square, said there are plans in the works for the building to include many new amenities, such as a coffee shop and a restaurant/deli. One Commerce Square is also talking with banks and accounting firms about coming to the building.
Phil Trenary, president and CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, gave the closing remarks, receiving a standing ovation.
He pointed out that Pinnacle didn’t choose between the aerotropolis and Downtown – it wasn’t about the aerotropolis community parting with Pinnacle or Pinnacle parting with aerotropolis. Instead, he said, the aerotropolis was “all Memphis, all together.”