Tuesday, April 24, 2018

City Councilman: City is Losing Economic Development Game

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2018 at 12:12 PM

Councilman Philip Spinosa Jr.
  • Councilman Philip Spinosa Jr.

The Memphis City Council was scheduled Tuesday to discuss a resolution shifting the structure of the city and county Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE), but Councilman Philip Spinosa Jr., who recently referred to EDGE as “broken” said he was too “emotional” to present the resolution during a committee meeting on Tuesday.


The councilman said two weeks ago that the council should look to amend the city ordinance that originally created EDGE, so that the president of EDGE, Reid Dulberger reports to the board and not to the mayor, to whom he currently reports.


Tuesday Spinosa said he’s “still real upset” with where the council and the Shelby County Commission are in changing the structure of EDGE and its leadership.


“We’re losing the economic development game,” he said. “We’re certainly not winning. I’m tired of that. It’s not about destroying EDGE, but about putting the right people in the right place.”


Spinosa had four recommendations prepared for the committee, but chose not to share because he said that would be “me and my emotions getting in the way of the progress we’ve made.”


Referring to an email he sent to EDGE leadership in March, asking for a copy of their policies, procedures, and performance reviews, Spinosa said he is frustrated that he still has not gotten a response 47 days later.

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Headed by Dulberger, EDGE was established in 2011 through a joint ordinance of the city council and county commission. It was created with the mission of “providing and coordinating public resources to drive economic development.” EDGE provides various types of economic assistance like pay-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) incentives, which offers tax abatements — with some conditions — to companies and developers.


EDGE’s first Community Builder PILOT, which are reserved for “nonprofit and for-profit entities investing in urban revitalization,” was awarded to Binghampton Development Corporation in 2015 for the $7 million grocery-store-anchored retail center, Binghampton Gateway Center to be constructed.


Other projects benefiting from EDGE’s incentives include ServiceMaster headquarters Downtown and IKEA, which received EDGE’s first PILOT incentive awarded to a retail store.


To date, EDGE has awarded about 75 PILOT incentives, investing a total of just under $3 billion, and providing about 16,000 local jobs. EDGE also requires that award recipients spend a set number of dollars contracting minority- or women-owned business enterprises (MWBE) or locally-owned small businesses (LOSB). As a result, the 75 projects spent about $4 million contracting either MWBEs and LOSBs.



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