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Opinion | PILOTS are driving business growth in Memphis | Richard Ransom

PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes, continues to help bring new businesses to Memphis.

MEMPHIS, Tennessee — In Friday’s Ransom Note: the PILOT question.

Around here you hear the word pilot and you probably think about people who fly FedEx planes. But it's also a nice way of saying tax break. PILOT stands for “payment in lieu of taxes,” and we just granted a whopper of a pilot to a company called Mullen. It used to be the closest you got to an electric vehicle near Winchester and Hacks Cross was a golf cart at TPC Southwind. But now a start-up California-based company called Mullen wants to turn the abandoned Nike warehouse in the 8400 block of Winchester into a manufacturing plant for one of its new electric models.

Go to the company website and you see the Dragonfly K-50 sports car, but keep scrolling down and you see its 2P6 SUV Crossover that it plans to make here. First models will roll out in 2024, and they'll cost between $58,000-$78,000 to buy one. Mullen is promising 800 jobs over five years, paying an average of $53,000 a year.

This week it got a $40 million PILOT to locate here. This could be the start of something big, and the company has a lot of promise. As controversial as these tax breaks are, promise is what they're based on. This time it seems worth taking the chance.

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