Dear Dr. Fleming,
If you want to connect to the community, meet with some non-establishment parts of the community like Memphis Raise Your Expectations (MRYE). You could follow the establishment meeting schedule of “community organizations” and never connect with the community. This blog will explore community disconnects which at times involve the University of Memphis and solutions.
Per Dr. Rudd’s remarks around “infusion new ideas and innovation“, a major innovative step would be to stop listening to Fred Smith and Pitt Hyde. If you met with MRYE, with authoritative data in hand, you would learn the following with solutions to follow:
- Since the founding of the FedEx/Memphis Tomorrow CEO organization, Memphis has persistently declined over 20 years, without an external event, while FedEx/Memphis Tomorrow initiatives feed on a community in need as their initiatives use Federal, State and Local tax dollars. Memphis Tomorrow is down in every one of their categories of public safety, workforce and economic development.
- Fred Smith and Pitt Hyde botched the Memphis workforce development system over 5 years while dismissing small local business solutions to address the problem while leaving 100,000 students and community in need with disconnected workforce development services costing local business and taxpayers millions. But that is what elitist do is dismiss their own people.
- Of $500M, over $200M in excessive corporate/real estate job incentives have been awarded, mostly to local companies, when benchmarked against other communities in Nashville and Indianapolis as Memphis achieves far below peer average total wage growth as the establishment feeds on a community in need. See blog here for references.
- Excessive incentives have been justified with bogus projection accounting, as documented in the local press in the Commercial Appeal and Daily Memphian by two separate sources.
- The Fogelman College of Business and The Memphis Economy project are enablers of decline by abandoning their peer city research measurement platform soon after the publication of this blog as they pursue Carnegie I status. Lack of funding is no excuse as the update to the measurement tables only takes a couple of hours at the most. While awarding excessive incentives costing taxpayers $20M per year and using bogus accounting, the U of M’s The Memphis Economy project has been publicly silent as community imbalances are exacerbated.
- The University of Memphis investigative journalism partnership under the direction of Marc Perrusquia with the Daily Memphian is a complete failure as no investigative stories that question real power have been published. This may be because Pitt Hyde is a major donor to the Daily Memphian.
- The U of M’s and Dr. Elena Delavaga’s Annual Poverty Report basically sits on the shelf without University advocacy in public legislative chambers for policy change to address community imbalances that would help improve economic development efforts.
- The University of Memphis local economic development efforts seem to focus on chasing economic incentives around town for the University which is the only time you will see Ted Townsend in legislative chambers. You will not see Ted Townsend in legislative chambers lobbying for policy change to improve the social well being of people to address community imbalances which is probably the greatest local economic development challenge.
- In a sheltered bubble, most local leaders are ignorant of anything else other than hack elitist systems that support community decline. Its all they really know as decline has become culturally normed as only the small few benefit. Examples of ignorant but highly educated leaders include: Jim Strickland, Beverly Robertson, Brandon Morrison, Kemp Conrad and Edmund Ford Jr. as well as others just to name a few.
The University of Memphis should not wait to be invited to connect to the community and propose solutions. As the area’s leading public higher ed institution, they should be in legislative chambers, in a genuine sense, with the people making public comment using their research findings to address the community’s #1 economic challenge, in community imbalances. Here are some suggestions:
- Stop listening to the hack elitist in Fred Smith and Pitt Hyde and their agents on public policy. CEOs are known to fire people for having a bad year. These guys have had a bad 20 years in the corporate community leadership space.
- Consider listening to local corporations like Smith and Nephew and Surface Dynamics who are investing locally without economic incentives.
- Encourage Elena Delavega to be in legislative chambers 2 times per month advocating for policy change to address community imbalances
- Have the Fogelman College of Business submit a funding proposal for adequate public transit to support economic development efforts
- Have the Fogelman College of Business re-establish their peer city research platform while leveraging this blog while advocating for optimal economic development policy.
- Have the Fogelman College of Business submit a measurable definition for economic development that ideally focuses on improving the social well being of people.
- Encourage Marc Perrusquia to conduct an investigative series on the decline of Memphis under the FedEx/Memphis Tomorrow complex.
Memphis is a failed experiment in elitist corporate socialism as advanced by the FedEx/Memphis Tomorrow complex. Its a complex that is largely represented on the UofM Board of Trustees.
It was disgusting to see Dr. David Rudd, on Behind the Headlines, do a touchdown dance on the 12-1 Shelby County Commission veto override of Mayor Harris, as the UofM has been rendered institutionally impotent on matters of community economic development as the state funded UofM’s economic development department chases down local incentives.
For the record, I’m not against some local incentives for the UofM. But not at the expense of becoming another cog in the wheel of the hack elitist establishment that has run the city in the ground over the last 20 years.
Memphis cannot afford to be institutionally robbed of a balancing voice of it’s leading public university in community affairs. After all there is no investigative reporting or rigorous government oversight of the vast taxpayer funded corporate community leadership complex. But sadly, in the work of community economic development, Memphis has been institutionally robbed under the new FedEx/Memphis Tomorrow UofM Board of Trustees.
Dr. Fleming, we would love to meet. Just give us a time and place.