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From The Top: Attracting Jobs & Investment to Memphis

This is the second post in a series on Membership ROI. To view the first post in the series click here.

First stop on the Chamber 101 tour is the economic development department. Economic development is the Greater Memphis Chamber’s bread and butter. Bringing jobs and investment to Memphis is our priority and the way we break the cycle of poverty and grow the middle class. Memphis has lost population over the past twenty years and, worse yet, our middle class has shrunk even more. Therefore, all Chamber activities support our goal of growing the middle class through the retention and creation of good jobs. This is the only way our tax base will grow to provide capital for our schools, public safety, infrastructure and an improved quality of life for all.

Our economic development team, led by Senior Vice President Mark Herbison, is part of a larger team all devoted to seeing Memphis prosper. Our valued partners include: Memphis Light, Gas & Water (MLGW), Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD), Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW) and Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE). 

Currently, we have 27 total projects in our pipeline – that’s 27 prospective companies looking at Memphis as a place to relocate or expand their operations. Those 27 companies represent 8,338 jobs and $679,633,000 in investment. Historically, these projects have been in the logistics and distribution industry, but recently we’ve witnessed a shift. Now a majority of these projects come from advanced manufacturing and back office companies. 

We build up our project pipeline by marketing Memphis and its benefits and developing relationships with site selectors – the people who are hired to help companies decide where to locate. This year, we’ve worked to do this through our trip to New York and by implementing our water strategy.

Once a company has put a Memphis site on its long list, we receive a request for information (RFI). Our in house research team then works around the clock to gather everything the company wants to know about the property, utilities, workforce, etc. Sometimes RFI documents can get up to thousands of pages in information.

After the RFI process, the company narrows it down to a couple of candidates. Once you make it to the shortlist, it’s all about which community offers the best deal. If Memphis makes it to the shortlist, we work with EDGE and the state to see what kinds of incentives are available. In Memphis, we use a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program to provide temporary property reductions to companies who commit to creating high-paying jobs and investing significant capital investment in Memphis and Shelby County. 

PILOTs help us bring in new companies and generate revenue for the city. When Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc. came to Memphis, the plot of land they chose had been on the market since the 1950s. The owners were paying only $52,796 per year in real estate taxes, that’s $791,940 over a 15-year span. Today Mitsubishi pays an average of $540,000 a year in real estate taxes DURING the PILOT. Including taxes generated from construction, raw materials and real estate, the new taxes generated during the PILOT will add up to $28,076,000. That’s a big increase from the $791,940 we would have received on the vacant land.  

It’s this process that helped bring IKEA and the Target E-Commerce Center to Memphis last year and was a key factor in keeping companies like Cummins so they can grow and create more good jobs in Memphis and Shelby County. And it’s these jobs that will help us achieve our objectives and create economic growth for all.

Phil Trenary
President & CEO
Greater Memphis Chamber
Posted: 6/3/2015 7:30:00 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: development, economic, From, memphis, Phil, the, Top, Trenary

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