Local 24 Political Analyst and Commentator Otis Sanford gives his point of view on issues surrounding a program meant to lure businesses to the Mid-South.
Whenever local business and political leaders talk about offering generous tax breaks to lure more jobs to our community, the conversation usually gets so technical and most people tune it out.
That was about to be the case with a new test program aimed at attracting large companies that have shown no interest in relocating, even satellite offices, to Memphis and Shelby County.
But when we learned that the new plans would not include any specific requirements that prospective companies do business with minority-owned companies, critics naturally cried foul. And now the test program is going back to the drawing board for possible changes.
Here in a nutshell is the issue. The Greater Memphis Chamber, along with the current city council and county commission chairs, were basically willing to forego demands for minority contracting in their new plans, thinking that any new company coming to town was better than nothing. And minority firms would eventually get some contracts.
But the pushback against that idea has been fierce, and rightfully so. This is a majority African-American city. Yet, black owned companies get an embarrassingly small share of private contracting work. Any new plan that provides huge tax incentives must include some requirements that African-American and other minority firms get more business.
So bravo to those who were unwilling to simply trust these new plans. And spoke up loud enough to change them.