Memphis chamber fires back after PILOT program attacked

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Believe it or not, Memphis often makes it on the short list when companies are looking to set up shop. The Chamber of Commerce will tell you that’s because of the city’s tax incentive package.

Dexter Muller said, “All of these cities start to look the same. They are making the decision on where they are going to go, and the pilot is usually the determining factor.”

The chamber just released a video and hopes it spreads across the city. It explains why the payment in lieu of taxes program, also known as PILOTs, is so important.

City workers blame these PILOTS as one reason the city is hiking health care premiums and cutting benefits for some retirees.

Memphis Police Association President Mike Williams said, “A lot of the businesses may not be bringing anything to the table other than, they provide jobs.”

But Muller argues without those jobs there wouldn’t be any money coming in to help boost the city’s budget. He says big and small businesses can take advantage of the cuts and bring in hundreds or thousands of jobs.

“We’ve got 180,000 people here living in poverty. we have got to do something about that. It’s not fair to those people to not bring in those jobs. The PILOT program is a critical part it what it takes to do that.”

Muller pointed to the Mitsubishi Plant in South Memphis. Before the company came in the city collected $40,000 from the plot of land. Now it collects $700,000 annually, and brought in 200 jobs.

Muller says without big tax incentives, those jobs and property tax money would be in Texas right now.

While Williams admits that may be true, he believes the incentives last way too long.

“A lot of cities give businesses pilots for three to five years. We’re issuing 10-, 15-, 20-, 30-year pilots. That is crazy!”

City Council members say the pilot program may be cut in the future.

Chamber officials say they are on board with fixing the city’s financial situation because it doesn’t matter how many tax incentives they offer no company wants to move to a city that’s on track to be the next Detroit.

8 comments

  • Bill Geyer

    Oh yea, it’s been working so well. The truth will tell it. Year after year, cut, cut, cut. We are broke, we are broke, we are broke. If businesses want to come here, make em pay. If they don’t want to pay, see ya, there is enough welfare going on, don’t need to add to it with multi million dollar companies that are just too greedy to pay their share.

  • Wake Up Memphis

    Memphis is the distribution hub of the country. It is centrally located with rail, air, and interstate access for business. THAT IS MEMPHIS’ BIGGEST PLUS. Surely the board of the chamber of commerce has the intelligence to see that. The chamber has a brilliant business strategy in talking a dupable mayor and city council into providing capital for private business start-ups in the Memphis area. That is the real perk of belonging to the chamber. Look around at the crime that is only going to get worse as the city loses public safety officials. Memphis WILL become the training hub for police departments and fire departments around the country. Other communities will thank the chamber down the road.

  • Rob H

    Hey Chamber, Why not fight to give the taxpaying citizens, who LIVE here, a PILOT program? You might keep the neighborhoods together and slow the flight from the city?!?!? I haven’t had a tax break in 43 years, I have worked here, lived here, and paid my share of taxes. These companies should be paying us (the city and citizens) to move here and use our resources.

  • Larry Boothby

    Well played Chamber of Commerce. Lets screw the people who protect the city so companies can get tax breaks! Well played!

  • takenobull

    Chamber of Commerce gift to Memphis. Turning the Memphis Fire and police into part time workers.

  • XEROX

    The last paragraph is laughable.

    The Chamber, Mayor, & the Council of Clowns are taking turns driving the bus that is taking the city of Memphis to Detroit.

  • IwishUwould

    It’s funny how they say without the PILOT programs company’s will go elsewhere, But what they fail to tell us is none of these companies are hiring full time employee’s from the city of Memphis. They only hire throught Temp Services who only pay about $8 per hr. I got one question, where are all the high paying jobs that these Companies promised coming in to get the PILOT’s.. The people who run this City don’t want growth for the people here as long as they can line thier pocket’s.. Point in case, a invester came in and wanted to invest 100mil by turning Mud Island and the Prymid into a admusment park but because they (the elected official’s) couldn’t contol the invester’s money themselves, they turned him down. Bottom Line if they can’t steal the money they don’t want your bussiness

  • Ryan

    Lies from the chamber. It’s funny how these programs are for SMALL, woman or minority owned business, these programs are not for big business. I guess when you have a ceo of an organization like good ole Phil known for killing something (like pinnacle airlines) jumping ship with over a one million dollar bonus this is what we can expect.

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