Shelby County Commission:
Thank you for deferring the “more of the same” Economic Advisory Board resolution today. Funding this effort is needed, perhaps even at a higher amount. But fundamental definition, which is lacking in the resolution, is needed to help direct the work of the advisory board from a public perspective.
Please know that YOU are the chief architects of local economic development work and not the economic development complex. And, don’t get distracted by terms like “research based”, because the best research is already available in “what does not work” in local economic development.
In order to earn your support for these amendments, I have removed a number of rhetorical devices while focusing on fundamental definition and needed course correction based on local results for the Memphis Business Attraction and Retention/Expansion Joint Venture Agreement ..
WHEREAS, The vision of Shelby County Government for economic development is to provide nation leading connected workforce development programming and to achieve above peer average total wage growth; and
WHEREAS, The Amazon Road Map policy pronouncement of the University of Memphis shall be adopted as a framework to guide economic development efforts in Shelby County; and
WHEREAS, “Economic Development” is defined as “a process to improve the social well being of people” and will be measured by Shelby County Government using total wage data as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Quarterly Census of Employment Wages (QCEW) versus Shelby County peers as identified by The University of Memphis and The Memphis Economy; and
WHEREAS, a career ready workforce is vital to economic development efforts, a “career ready” individual will be based on the completion of a high school equivalency and/or post-secondary credential, a Silver level ACT National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC) and the completion of a career plan; and
WHEREAS, more voices from the Memphis general public, that are informed on incentives, outside of the corporate/real estate/political establishment are needed on the Economic Development Advisory Board to present dissenting argument for the benefit of small business and the overall public good as the named members have historically represented corporate/real estate interests and rarely if ever opposed a specific tax incentive on the record; and
WHEREAS, a representative for Shelby County municipalities outside of Memphis is needed on the Economic Development Advisory Board; and
WHEREAS, “small business” and “workforce development”, typically the primary drivers of economic growth, should be emphasized in the Memphis Business Attraction and Retention/Expansion Joint Venture Agreement and are not, which further underscores the lack of emphasis on small business and workforce development as corporate/real estate incentives have been historically overemphasized by the Memphis economic development complex in the work of economic development; and
WHEREAS, it must be understood that the majority of the Memphis/Shelby deficiency in total wage growth can be attributed to a struggling small business sector and disconnected workforce development efforts and that appropriate informed representation is needed on the Advisory Board to represent small business and workforce development; and
WHEREAS, effective measurement is critical to economic development efforts, a rescoring of the EDGE Scorecard should be undertaken to apply complete accounting methodologies for retention PILOTs and potentially other matters which may include a rescoring for warehouse expansion PILOTs based on research of the Economic Institute; and
WHEREAS, a Shelby County Commission review of all 9 abating boards will commence in April 2019 and the findings of the Commission will be put on record with the Economic Development Advisory Board; and
WHEREAS, a new EDGE Board is immediately needed that reflects more professional balance from across the economic development spectrum to include education, workforce, small business and transit; and
WHEREAS, Shelby County already has a research base that should supersede any external research base in knowing what does not work which would end retention PILOTS, residential PILOTs and unneeded TIFs in affluent unblighted areas with responsible PILOTs for industry recruitment and large local expansions continuing.
These amendments will provide the Memphis/Shelby Economic Development Advisory Board with better and more specific direction from Shelby County government.