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Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update: Feb. 1, 2019
Weekly Update: On Electrolux
Posted on 02/01/2019
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As I said at Monday night’s State of the City speech, and as I’ve been saying for some time now, Memphis has momentum. Eighteen thousand more Memphians employed, $15 billion in recent/current/future development, and an improving City government can’t be wrong.

But as I also said Monday night, our work is not over — far from it.

Our early indicators from the past three years may be good, but the long-term work for a better Memphis — like drastic reductions in our high-for-generations crime and poverty rates — is what drives me every waking hour. It’s why I also subscribe to this mantra: My job is to celebrate our successes, all while being clear-eyed about our challenges.

I say that today in light of Thursday’s announcement that Electrolux plans to depart Memphis in 2020. There’s no sugar-coating it — this was a disappointing, frustrating thing to learn from a company that told me just a month ago that it wasn’t leaving and actually planned to add a new product line in Memphis.

More than anything, our concerns are with the hard-working Memphians who went to work Thursday only to learn they would lose their jobs. We will team with every partner, including the Workforce Investment Network and the state, to assist these workers and ensure they have every opportunity to seamlessly continue their careers.

But it’s also important to know that, as I said in Thursday’s statement, Electrolux isn’t leaving Memphis because of Memphis. We’ve had a number of wins lately, including 700 new jobs with Indigo Ag and roughly 1,500 new jobs with Amazon’s new facilities. Electrolux’s decision is an outlier in our improving economy.

So we will continue the work to make ours a healthier and more equitable economy — including our work to grow small and mid-sized local businesses (where 72 percent of our recent job growth has come from, by the way), our work to build neighborhoods through Memphis 3.0, our work to continue the reduction in violent crime, our work to continue the reduction in our poverty rate, and our work to attract new businesses to town.

We will also continue the work to be the best steward of your taxpayer dollar we possibly can be. We will fully enforce all rights we have in defending the investment in the Electrolux project the City made alongside Shelby County and the State of Tennessee back in 2010.

Alongside County Mayor Lee Harris and local officials, we met with Electrolux leadership in my conference room a short while ago. Following our meeting, Electrolux agreed to voluntarily release its PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement, meaning it will begin to pay the full tax on the property. And, we communicated a request to Electrolux to return the land we donated to it for its facility.

We as taxpayers deserve no less.

Catalyzing our community: As I mentioned above, the neighborhoods-first investments as directed by Memphis 3.0 are vitally important to economic development. While much of the conversation and coverage on this topic focuses on business attraction, that’s only a part of our overall economic development strategy.

Giving neighborhoods a jump-start to encourage private investment is another big part of it. That’s why on Monday we announced the creation of the Memphis Community Catalyst Fund, a dedicated, recurring fund that will pay for infrastructure improvements in neighborhood anchors. Improved infrastructure and smart planning will lay the best groundwork possible for private investment to enter disinvested neighborhoods.

Jamie Munks of The Commercial Appeal had a nice, informative article about the fund earlier this week. So did Bill Dries at The Daily Memphian. I encourage you to read them.

As I said Monday night, ours is a neighborhoods-first administration. And while it’s important that we celebrate what’s happening Downtown, it’s just as important what’s happening down the street. In time, the Community Catalyst Fund will help drive more and more opportunity in our core city, and I hope you’re just as excited about it as I am.

Building small businesses: I thank the National Association of Women Business Owners, Memphis chapter, for its recognition last night of our efforts to build small businesses, which help our overall economy, promote job creation, and build a more equitable economy. The photo below is from last night's event.

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Each Friday, Mayor Jim Strickland sends his Weekly Update email. It's a recap of events from the week, a celebration of Memphis' successes, and a frank look at our challenges. To receive the Weekly Update in your inbox, sign up here.
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