MEMPHIS, Tenn. (August 27, 2018) – In an effort to improve Memphis and Shelby County’s competitiveness for new industrial investment, the Greater Memphis Chamber has partnered with local and state economic development agencies to apply for site improvement grants at multiple high-potential properties across the city.
“This is a fundamental step in elevating our game plan for economic development,” said Eric Miller, Senior Vice President of Economic Development for the Greater Memphis Chamber. “Available and marketable sites are a cornerstone to any viable economic development initiative. As our economic development strategy shifts toward a more proactive approach, we want to have a cadre of sites across the city that are development ready and available for investment.”
This is the first step in the Chamber’s Sites and Buildings Plan, a key initiative taken on by the Chamber as a result of the Boyette Study released earlier this month. The plan also includes a revamping of the Chamber’s searchable property database and a more collaborative approach to working with city and county officials on infrastructure improvements to high-potential properties.
Sites submitted to this round of potential certification were chosen based on plot size, current state of the property, conceivable investment and location.
“Each of these sites are prime properties across the city that represent tremendous potential to revitalize areas of our city and to attract top tier investment,” said Adrienne Johnson, Vice President of Research for the Greater Memphis Chamber. “For example, the Firestone site is frequently submitted for projects because of the desirability of the location and its access to rail. But time and again that site is knocked out in the early stages of proposals because of its current environmental condition.”
In 2017, concern about possible environmental issues eliminated the Firestone site from contention for numerous projects, Johnson said.
“Our goal in applying for certification is to find solutions to address conditions on these sites so that we can make these sites more attractive for investment,” Johnson said.
The Chamber submitted two different grant applications on behalf of Memphis and Shelby County. One site – the Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Area was submitted for a Site Development High Impact Grant. Eight sites, the maximum allowed, were submitted for the TN Site Evaluation Program. Those sites included Meltech (Southeast Memphis), Millington Small Business Park (Millington), Navy Site (President’s Island), Distriplex Farms (Southeast Memphis) , Airport Property (Whitehaven), Firestone (New Chicago), Northridge (Frayser) and Memphis Oaks (Southeast Memphis).
Letters of intent were submitted on August 17. Planning for grant applications began over the summer.
The TN Property Evaluation Program is a certification process that evaluates the readiness of industrial sites for use within the State’s economic development recruitment process. The sites must be appropriately zoned to include light or heavy industrial use and at least 20 acres in size. Sites accepted into the program will ultimate get a site-specific targeted marketing strategy and additional exposure to potential buyers via the state’s Certified Sites website. Sites selected will also get state project managers for three years.
While no sites from Shelby County are currently in the program, previously certified sites include the Aerotropolis Site (commonly known as the Mall of Memphis), which has since been sold and developed into TAG Truck Center.
Several application steps will need to be completed before the site can be certified. The full process will take about three months. In some cases, like Firestone, the process will require some assistance from the property owner.
The Chamber worked with the County, Municipal Chambers, EDGE and the State to identify available sites for submission. Only eight sites could be submitted in each county. Seven of the sites submitted are in the City of Memphis and one is in Millington.
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