Memphis leaders react to possible Pinnacle departure

(WMC-TV) - This weekend Memphis leaders addressed rumors that Pinnacle Airlines may consider moving their headquarters out of the city less than two years after receiving sizeable tax breaks and incentives.

The company is reorganizing in the middle of bankruptcy, but cities like Minneapolis are trying to pry Pinnacle from Memphis, but the city's holding on tight.

It was like a party when Pinnacle Airlines chose Downtown Memphis for its final destination almost two years ago.

Hundreds of employees were given the red carpet treatment.

"They're a valued company," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.

After filing for bankruptcy, the company's time in the Bluff City has been more like a roller coaster ride than a smooth flight.

Still, Wharton says the company is worth fighting for.

"We've got an interest in it and we're going to do what we need to keep them here," Wharton said.

It's no secret that Pinnacle is on Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport's wish list.

Officials told Action News 5 they've had talks with the company.

Memphis Downtown Commission President Paul Morris admits the rumors are alarming.

"If Pinnacle were to leave there's no mistake it would be terrible, terrible news for downtown," Morris said.

Morris says Pinnacle's lease rates are below market price and the company has invested so much in Memphis that he doubts Pinnacle will make a departure from the city.

"It would be very distracting for them at this time to go through bankruptcy and also try to move their headquarters," Morris said.

For a company in the middle of reorganizing during bankruptcy, Morris says it's not surprising that other cities like Minneapolis might use this time as a chance for a sales pitch.

"The fact is other cities across this country are competing to recruit businesses everyday every business we have in Memphis is subject to leaving if we don't do our jobs to keep them here," said Morris.

Mayor Wharton says that's exactly what the city plans to do.

"We're going to do our part to see that were good landlords for them, we want to keep them here," Wharton said.

Morris said two years ago the building at One Commerce Square was at risk of going dark, but after investments to lure companies like Pinnacle it's thriving once again.

A Pinnacle spokesperson released a written statement that reads: "We currently don't have any plans to move but every opportunity to reduce cost must be and will be considered."

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