EDGE Program to Invest in Inner City Development

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(Memphis) Memphis and Shelby County’s plan to bring business and jobs to town through tax breaks is under fire.

Many feel like the average Memphian is left to struggle while corporations moving into Bluff City have their pockets stuffed with cash.

Empty buildings are something Memphis hopes will soon be full.

City council’s even willing to pay to make it happen.

The money is specifically geared toward very small businesses in inner city areas here in Memphis.

The qualifications to get those loans are expected to be fairly loose to keep people from being discouraged from applying.

Right now edge is coming up with plans for how people will apply for and get that money.

The money comes from a fee businesses already pay as part of a city and county run tax incentive program called EDGE.

“We know that without that program we are not competitive for larger programs. We know that both city council and the county commission want us to keep competing for and win those larger projects,” said Reid Dolburger with EDGE.

EDGE gives tax incentives to entice companies to bring jobs to the Mid-South.

In return, companies getting those incentives must pay up to $50,000 to encourage inner city business growth.

“Now that we`ve accumulated a few dollars the time was right to put a program in place and bring it to council,” said Dolburger.

Council member Harold Collins is leading the efforts to cut back on the number a tax breaks companies get when they move to Memphis.

In the last year Memphis and Shelby county have seen big property tax hikes, and some blame EDGE.

“There`s millions of dollars the city does not claim because we`ve abated them through tax breaks,” said Collins.

Collins says that could bring down property taxes or go towards training.

He is working with the Edge board and chamber to see what can be done differently and will present it to council in December.