Monday, February 18, 2008

DeSoto County Needs Good Neighbor Policy

And officials in DeSoto County wonder why we often have so little positive feelings toward them.

Sometimes, it’s hard to shake the feeling that they are circling our community like vultures, looking to pick off our companies and our jobs.

We thought of this in the wake of the apparent destruction of the former Coors Beer bottling plant, now the Hardy Bottling Company owned by one of Memphis’ most impressive success stories, Carolyn Hardy.

When the Coors beer plant she managed shut its doors, she put all of her money at risk to buy the plant and put 120 people back to work. It was courageous on her part, and it was starting to pay off as she won more contracts and planned to increase her workforce by 66 percent.

But, recent tornado damage is not fully covered, and it’s questionable if she can get the plant back on line.

In the midst of the catastrophic damage to the plant, our neighbors from the south called up and offered incentives to get her to move operations across the state line. It reminded us of the time when a prominent county elected official died and half the people at the visitation were trying to cut deals for his job.

Perhaps, in this case, DeSoto County’s interest was purely charitable, but in light of its regular forays into Shelby County to poach our businesses, it’s not likely. For too long, rather than develop their own prospects which could end up creating a net positive impact on our region, DeSoto County and Mississippi officials have set the targeting of Memphis businesses as a main plank of their economic development plans.

If there’s 10 Commandments for a successful regional economy, the first one should be: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s businesses.

Until DeSoto County acknowledges the fact that we’re all in this together, it will always encounter prevalent descriptions of it in Shelby County as a parasite that lives and preys on the county whose success is instrumental to its own.


Anonymous said...

I thought the same thing. They live off poaching existing Memphis and Shelby County companies instead of going out and recruiting from around the country. It's one reason why this region lags others economically adn otherwise. The Memphis Area C of C helps to recruit to this REGION, but desoto County doesn't return the favor.

Anonymous said...

I agree and also get the same feeling about our other suburbs though Desoto is the worst. Now they want us to pay them for drawing from the aquifer that covers both states plus Arkansas.

Anonymous said...

They aren't poaching, but offering a cheaper and less bureaucratically-mired alternative. This is merely a smart business move on the part of Desoto County officials, growing their tax base to shift the tax burden off of homeowners. I work in the industrial real estate industry, so whether the project is in Shelby County or Desoto County matters not to my pocketbook. Fact is, doing business in Shelby County is more expensive and decisions about tax incentives and such are so mired in paperwork that it drives large businesses to Desoto. One of the latest to make the move south, Trane if I remember correctly, cited the ease of communication and fast response to questions/concerns as reasons for the Desoto choice.

Businesses could honestly care less about the ongoing Shelby Countian(rather 'towner Memphian)vs. Desoto Countian feud. They do care about attentive government officials, overhead costs, and tax incentives. If anything, it's Memphis' crony-istic, bureaucratic, wait-wait-wait system that is driving businesses away.

anon 8:28am, so how is "poaching" from Memphis different from "recruiting" from other areas around the country? Would that not also be "poaching" from those markets? It's free market economics. If businesses like Desoto's offer better and choose to move there, maybe Memphis needs to get on the ball and sweeten the deal....or at least respond promptly when companies have concerns about doing business here.

Let's all face it, Desoto County, regardless of how poorly Memphians view it, is no longer playing second fiddle as a place to live and commute to Memphis. They are out to establish themselves as the complete live/work/play area...and have made fairly exceptional progress towards that in the last 20 years.

Please remember that just because Desoto dangles the proverbial carrot, it doesn't mean that the business has to bite it. It's nothing personal, just business! If Memphis wants to survive an industrial drain, they need to look at what Desoto is doing to bring businesses in. The current Memphis system is a mess. Until that is streamlined, expect to see more industrial outflow from the city.

Anonymous said...

How is "poaching" from another region any different? Well, for one thing it's a net inflow to OUR region versus no net gain for our region. It's working together, which Desoto County NEVER does, they never miss a chance to throw mud at memphis. I'm not saying Memphis doesn't need to do better, but it would help if all the municipalities attempted to embody regionalism in their efforts instead of tearing each other down, Oh by the way, when does desoto County and Mississippi plan to pay for all the indegent care for trauma victims that the Med provides? Never, I'll wager.

Smart City Consulting said...

Anonymous 4:52:

Thanks for that compelling answer. We were having trouble even beginning. :)

Anonymous said...

We need a tollbooth on 78 at the state line