MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Memphis and Shelby County Regional Economic Alliance (REA) said it has exceeded its 2019 projections for jobs, investment, and minority/local business spend.
The alliance includes members from the city of Memphis, Shelby County, and other economic development agencies like EDGE, the Downtown Memphis Commission, and the Greater Memphis Chamber.
In 2019, economic development groups approved 82 projects. Their goal for the year was 45. The alliance also said 1,649 jobs were created, with its projection for the year at 1,594.
Wednesday the CEO of EDGE said leaders are focused on adding jobs at all levels of pay in Memphis and Shelby County, concentrating on trying to nab new corporate headquarters, as well as agricultural technology and medical device firms.
“We are engaged in trying to attract companies that are selling into a national or international marketplace, because they’re bringing new dollars to our community not just recirculating dollars we already have. And that’s how we grow the pie,” said Reid Dulberger, President and CEO of EDGE.
Dulberger defended the use of property tax incentives which have been criticized by some city council and county commission members. He said they are a necessary tool to recruit companies and are used by other cities and counties nationwide.
“We as a community need to decide, do we want to compete,” said Dulberger, “If we choose not to compete, we need to be ready to accept the fact that we will have fewer projects.”
For 2020, the REA is projecting to help 68 projects that create 3,800 jobs, invest $1.1 billion dollars and guarantee $109 million in contracts to minority and women-owned businesses.
Dulberger said 2020′s projections were made assuming the national economy remains strong.