by David S. Waddell
In 1995, the top 100 publicly traded US companies generated 53 percent of all public company income. Twenty years later, the top 100 generated 84 percent of all public company income. For direction on what has led to this inflating concentration, look no further than roster rotation among the top 10. In 1995, the 10 largest US companies, worth a combined $813 billion, were GE, AT&T, Exxon, Coke, Merck, Shell, Philip Morris, Procter & Gamble, J&J, and Microsoft. Microsoft made the list for the first time that year, vaunting a technology name into a “blue chip” leadership class long dominated by oil, consumer goods, and manufacturing names. Today, technology companies dominate the top 10 list with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, well ahead of J&J, Exxon, Berkshire, JP Morgan, and GE. These technology behemoths themselves combine for a market value of $3 trillion, $1 trillion more than the bottom five.
Unregulated economies develop natural monopolies. In 1900, Standard Oil (now Exxon) controlled 90 percent of the US oil market, making John D. Rockefeller the richest American who ever lived. A few years later, the newly formed US Steel controlled 70 percent of the nation’s steel production, lifting Andrew Carnegie’s net worth to over $310 billion. Unsurprisingly, Americans tired of these “robber barons,” resulting in major anti-trust legislation being passed and Presidents Roosevelt and Taft suing 120 US companies. Today, 1,160 federal employees work for the Federal Trade Commission, safeguarding market competition.
How Kevin Kane is taking Memphis to the world
by Jon W. Sparks
Kevin Kane will gladly run the numbers for you.
As President and CEO of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, he is all about the digits: dollar figures, rankings, crowd flow, ticket buyers, economic impact and all.
One interesting number is 26 – the number of years he’s been at the helm of the CVB. That’s a long time to stick around in that kind of job, but the Memphis-born, Memphis-raised smooth booster is all Memphis all the time.
Kane uses the word “great” a lot and takes a back seat to no one when it comes to touting the city. He’s also realistic.
“We take negative happenings in our city as personally as if it was happening to our own family,” he says. “We bleed for Memphis. We bleed the Memphis product. And what Memphis represents. Yeah, we’ve got some room for improvement but we’ve got a lot more things going right for us than going wrong.”
The CVB works on several levels to put Memphis in the best light. “We have really been able to fine-tune, hone, mature, and really promote the brand and the brand appeal and target the potential visitor bases for this area,” Kane says. “The Convention & Visitors Bureau is about driving revenue. We don’t just hand out brochures with pretty pictures and say come visit our attractions. We’re very strategic in what we do.”
What would happen in Shelby County if the Trump budget were enacted?
by Jon W. Sparks
There’s been no end of discussion about significant changes in federal spending lately, but the whirlwind of words and figures have not yielded a clear sense of the consequences the 2018 budget proposed by the Trump Administration would have at the local level. How would Shelby County fare if and when funding is cut for widely used public programs?
An analysis by Dr. John Gnuschke, director of the Sparks Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of Memphis, and Dr. Jeff Wallace, associate research professor, provides an estimate of the economic impact our community would feel if the Trump administration’s budget proposals were to be enacted.
The blueprint for federal spending, which Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget has called the “America First” budget, was made public in May. It proposes to balance the budget in 10 years with $3.6 trillion in cuts in social safety net programs, many of which are administered by the departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, and Education.
Those programs, Mulvaney says, discourage work and hinder economic growth. Opponents say the proposed tax cuts for wealthier Americans effectively take away from the poor, particularly the most vulnerable in the lowest quintile (20 percent of households in terms of household income), which in Tennessee is $18,440, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In Memphis, it’s about $15,000.
Ring Container Technologies and the Wolf River Conservancy collaborate
by Emily Adams Keplinger
In 2015, the Wolf River Conservancy entered into a partnership with Ring Container Technologies, with the announcement of a $500,000 Ring Challenge Grant that was formally announced at WRC’s fundraiser, the Greenway Soirée. Proceeds during the evening’s “Fund A Need” portion of the live auction were matched dollar-for-dollar by Ring Container.
“Thanks to the Ring Challenge Grant, WRC has protected hundreds of additional wetlands in the Wolf River corridor, bringing our total number of protected wetlands to over 16,000 acres,” says Keith Cole, executive director of the Wolf River Conservancy. “No other company in the state of Tennessee has made this level of investment into land conservation and preservation.”
Ring Container is a plastic bottle supplier with 17 automated manufacturing facilities across the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The company works with international food processors and suppliers including Stratas Foods, Cargill, Hormel, Con-Agra, and others to develop packaging for products such as dressings, sauces and oils, peanut butter, mayonnaise, snacks, and pet foods. In addition to its manufacturing facilities, it also has three distribution centers and a corporate headquarters and research facility in Oakland, Tennessee. Companywide, it employs about 700 workers with 2017 projected sales of more than $400 million.
by Andrea Wiley
I recently attended an 8th-grade graduation ceremony and was impressed by the speaking ability demonstrated by the 14-year-old girls who delivered the valedictorian and salutatorian address to their fellow classmates, family members, friends, and teachers. They were poised, rehearsed, and confident and were able to clearly communicate their message to the audience. It occurred to me that those girls were well on their way to mastering a skill that many professionals lack.
The reality is that there are several elements that contribute to a solid presentation and it does not end at the caliber of one’s public speaking ability. That is just the beginning. Though so often, that is where all the emphasis is placed when planning and preparing a presentation.
We live in a world where we think we are too busy to slow down and take the time necessary to thoughtfully prepare for a presentation, even though, growing up we were taught, “Practice makes perfect.” While perfection may not be a realistic expectation, we should still “practice, practice, practice,” in an effort to do our best. The more practice you put in ahead of time, the more comfortable you will be presenting, and the more you present, the more confident you will be in your ability to do so.
by Jon W. Sparks
Our cover package is a keeper for anyone who has to put together an event, whether a meet-and-greet in a private room in a restaurant or a big shindig in an auditorium with food and music and presentations.
There’s an interview with Kevin Kane, president and CEO of the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, who offers insight into the present state of Memphis tourism and the future of conventions. You’ll also find a terrifically useful list of venues in and around town where you can stage your event.
Meanwhile, Jody Callahan interviewed event planners to see how the industry has changed and Aisling Maki has a feature on the growing number of taprooms, breweries and distilleries that will host events. And if you’re planning a presentation, check out Andrea Wiley’s column for tips on making it effective.
Elsewhere in the issue, see Frank Murtaugh’s interview with Latino Memphis leader Mauricio Calvo, Jane Schneider’s profile of the forward-thinking ER2 recycling operation, and Samuel X. Cicci’s Q&A with outgoing Rhodes College president William E. Troutt.
And don’t miss David S. Waddell’s fascinating look at “E-conomics,” where the rapidly changing global information marketplace is wildly different from the one-time dominant manufacturing and oil sector — but they still have some resemblance to the “bully monopolies” of yore.
Making the old new again is the secret sauce of the booming neighborhood
by Toby Sells
Dozens of young faces happily huddled close to the glowing campfires of Loflin Yard.
A bluegrass mandolin tinkled softly just above the rowdy din of their conversations that hovered over the yard. The Saturday-evening air was breezy, chilly. But the young revelers just inched closer to the ringed (and L.L.-Bean-perfect) camp fires, and dug their hands farther into their trendy jackets and vests.
A glance over a craft beer and across the yard itself revealed the white facades and landscaped edges of the brand new condos at South Junction, where many of the revelers likely lived. Cars lined Carolina Avenue. The bar was busy, the energy was high, and the whole scene was — without a doubt — vibrant. No one could have imagined this three years ago.
“When I was in high school, I never would’ve thought in a million years that Florida and Carolina and Georgia would be a residential area,” Josh Whitehead, director of the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Planning and Development, told the Memphis Flyer last year. “It was one-story, kind-of-cool brick warehouses. But at night, it was, you know, spooky. The street lights were always out, and it was all these dark brick warehouses from a thousand years ago.”
About a year ago, investors spent about $880,000 to create Loflin Yard. They transformed a former key shop into a bar and light restaurant. They transformed a former barn into an event space. They transformed a small grazing pasture (the barn used to house horses for Downtown carriages) into that Saturday-night gathering spot for all of those new faces.
That transformation process — that turning of a former X into a new Y — is the equation, the road map, the playbook, the sure-fire no-brainer and, yes, the secret sauce of the massive comeback of the entire South Main Historic District.
A fraternal headquarters changed the look of the Memphis skyline
by Vance Lauderdale
In 1926, the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks constructed one of the most impressive structures ever erected in our city — the 12-story tower at Jefferson and Main (shown here) they would call, quite simply and logically, the Elks Club Building.
Crafted by the Memphis firm of Mahan and Broadwell, this was a combination lodge and hotel that was, according to a promotional brochure, “attractive in design, mammoth in size, and furnished luxuriously and in excellent taste — simple dignity without in any way losing the informal, homelike air of a true club.” Erected at a cost of some $1.3 million (an enormous sum in the 1920s), the new Elks Club featured “150 delightful rooms with bath and outside exposure, circulating ice water, free electrical fan service, and a new and sanitary coffee shop.” That was just the hotel portion of the building, which was open to the public.
The Elks themselves enjoyed considerably fancier amenities. The building included a complete gymnasium that would allow members to “enter the day’s work with new zest, boyish vim, and vigor”; a billiards room with “first-quality tables, balls, cues, and scoring equipment”; a huge indoor swimming pool with “crystal clear waters”; a “spacious, airy, and inviting” six-lane bowling alley; a handball court “pulsing with life and action”; and “one of the most attractive ballrooms in the city.” All that was in addition to the Club Grille, the coffee shop, the library, the lounge, and the Turkish baths, where Elks members “may receive the expert attention of trained masseurs, and sally forth thence refreshed and invigorated.”
by Jon W. Sparks
Phil Trenary, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, wants a job. Actually, multiple jobs.
He’s glad to see St. Jude bringing new ones Downtown, but he’s equally happy when any jobs come into Shelby County.
“The Chamber doesn’t care where a company is as long as it remains in Shelby County,” he says. “We want it to be here because it’s our tax base, our community. That’s what determines how we look going forward.”
So as far as the Chamber was concerned, it wasn’t about getting ServiceMaster to relocate Downtown, it was about keeping it in the community.
That said, Trenary was glad to see the company’s decision to take the long-dormant Peabody Place mall and repurpose it into an office space that would bring some 1,200 employees Downtown to work (and eat and play).
“A vibrant Downtown and a growing Downtown — especially one that attracts millennials — is a key ingredient of economic development because there’s a race to attract the millennials, the talented young creative class out there,” he says.
by Jimmie Tucker
This is an exciting time for cities. Innovative leaders, policies, and strategies are driving progress in metropolitan areas and regions across the world. Memphis is no exception, and I am glad to be engaged in projects that are creating a positive impact on our communities and helping local residents reimagine a vibrant city.
What gets me most excited about our work as architects is the potential for equitable transformation — that even the most underserved areas have the possibility of becoming vibrant neighborhoods. I firmly believe that each building we design should enhance the quality of the life of its occupants and enrich the architectural fabric of the community.
Through first-hand experience I understand the challenges of engaging in community revitalization from multiple perspectives. For the past 10 years I have been architect and developer of the Universal Life Insurance Building. It is a project that has spanned the recession and three city administrations. It has been a challenging project but one that has taught me about the importance of tenacity and partnerships, as well as creative financing and community engagement. Through an innovative partnership with the City of Memphis and with the last amount of critical funding from First Alliance Bank, the project will move forward in June 2017.
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