Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Maybe We Ought to Be Looking for a New Strategy...

"Jabil adding 500 new jobs" was the headline on the front page of yesterday's Commercial Appeal. Third paragraph: "The new jobs will pay from $8.50 to $11.50 per hour."

It was only in the twelfth graph, deep in the jump (and after Mayor Wharton is quoted praising the company), that we learn Jabil is seeking a three-year tax break for its investment. That's on top of the five-year tax break (graph 13) the company received in 2003 when it planed to hire 400 people. (Today it employs 372 workers, according to the story.)

Let's see... $8.50 an hour x 40 hours a week = $340 a week. That adds up to a whopping $17,680 per year. Let's take the higher figure, $11.50 per hour. That's $460 a week or $23,920 annually.

For that we offer an 8-year tax freeze.

If, in fact, "There's not another city in the world that's done a better job with its distribution infrastructure than Memphis," as Jabil's operations manager told the CA, then why does it require an 8-year tax freeze to get the company to locate here?

Perhaps the more pertinent point is, if our economic development strategy produces a best-of-class infrastructure that only supports $18,000 a year jobs, maybe we ought to be looking for a new strategy.

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