The mayors on Friday identified their nine nominees to lead the powerful new board with a sharp nickname (EDGE) and wordy legal label (Industrial Development Board for the City of Memphis and County of Shelby Tennessee).
The Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County is designed to cut red tape for businesses considering locating or expanding in Memphis.
Into EDGE will be merged the city and county’s Office of Economic Development with the Industrial Development Board, the Port Commission, Depot Redevelopment Authority, Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial park, and city’s Foreign-Trade Zone 77 and Renewal Community programs.
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell jointly nominated Mark Yates of Memphis to serve as chairman.
Yates, 44, a member of the existing Industrial Development Board, is executive director for Voices for Memphis’ Children at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, which advocates for effective public policies benefiting youth.
He expressed "gratitude for the opportunity" and described his fellow nominees as a "well-rounded group."
"Over the past 18 months there’s been tremendous momentum with projects such as Electrolux and Mitsubishi, and we want to continue the momentum and ensure we are making our community as friendly and open to business and job growth as we can."
Wharton’s nominees are Mark Halperin of Memphis, executive vice president of Boyle Investment Co.; Deidre Malone of Memphis, president and CEO of The Carter Malone Group; Johnny Moore, president and CEO of SunTrust Bank Memphis, and Richard Smith of Memphis, managing director, Life Sciences and Specialty Services at FedEx Express.
Luttrell’s nominees are Natasha Bowen of Arlington, president/CEO of The Growth Coach; Tom Dyer of Germantown, of Wyatt, Tarrant & Combs; Larry Jackson of Millington, president of Patriot Bank; and Dick Leike of Germantown, president and co-owner of Crye-Leike.
The nine voting members will have staggered terms, and must be approved by the Memphis City Council and the Shelby County Commission.
Also nominated are Memphis City Councilman Kemp Conrad and Shelby County Commissioner Chris Thomas, who will be nonvoting members representing the council and commission.
EDGE also will create an authority to pursue federal rail grants, try to expand financing for small business, and be a liaison to the Greater Memphis Chamber and Memphis ED plan.
The plan is to get the new organization running by June or July, Luttrell said earlier this week. Local government is working to hire a search firm to help in the hiring of the president of EDGE.
"Establishing the EDGE and appointing its board of directors is a significant step toward rebuilding and reviving our local economy," Wharton said.
Being a board member, he said, "is a significant responsibility, and it comes at an extraordinarily meaningful juncture in our community’s progress. These folks are up to the job…"
The nominees were chosen "for their business skills and leadership abilities," Luttrell said. "Their knowledge and talents will provide excellent guidance in our efforts to create new business opportunities in Shelby County."
One of them, Boyle Investment’s Halperin, said, "I’m probably more excited and passionate about what’s happening in Memphis than I’ve been in a long time.
"These two mayors we’ve got, really, their level of cooperation and admiration and respect for each other is really contagious."
Jackson, the Patriot Bank president, was Millington Industrial Board chairman five years. "It’s a good opportunity for me to do all I can to help be sure that Shelby County gets its share of industry," Jackson, 63, said.
Malone, 48, served as a county commissioner eight years. That experience, she said, gave her the "opportunity to watch how the Regional Chamber would work with the legislative bodies and mayors to bring industry here. It makes so much sense to make it a unified effort and bring all the entities under one umbrella."
Leike, 69, has been on the IDB almost three years. "We just need a united front here to market our community," he said.