I think it was president Calvin Coolidge who once opined the business of the nation is business.
To that end, the city and county mayor were both singing out of the same hymnal to different crowds Wednesday.
To Shelby County Commissioners in the afternoon, county mayor Mark Luttrell was blunt.
“We have almost overregulated ourselves into poverty around here,” Luttrell said. “We are digging our own economic hole by the impediments that we’re placing in the way of economic development in our community.”
To a crowd of journalists and bloggers in his 7th floor conference room at City Hall Wednesday night, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton bemoaned the need for companies that want to do business here to have to go to the Industrial Development Board, the Airport Authority, the Center City Commission, city and county government, and on and on.
“It’s a deal-killer,” Wharton said.
A few hours earlier, he and Luttrell were seated side-by-side before the IDB to convince the board to grant Cargill Inc. a tax incentive. Cargill is among a growing number of employers asking for incentives to stay put – whereas the IDB in the past has been mostly about reeling new folks into the city.
Wharton told the board, as The Daily News reported online Wednesday, government officials are “on pins and needles” working to keep what Memphis has got.
I think it’s fair to say whether Memphis and Shelby County get folded into one metro government is not the most important thing that will be decided by the consolidation vote next month. Even more important is how the outcome – whatever it is – will affect Memphis and Shelby County’s ability to, as Wharton likes to put it, “get in the game” – the economic development game.
That’s just my two cents.