by Frank Murtaugh
Alex Turley is a Memphian. But a Memphian with perspective sharpened by his days in Washington, D.C., and Chicago, not to mention a college semester in Ireland (where he happened to meet his wife, a native of Phoenix). A city’s dynamics — how it breathes, functions, and grows — are now Turley’s tool kit as vice president of real estate at Henry Turley Company. His understanding of how other cities thrive, though, has come to enhance Turley’s skills with that tool kit.
“I spent my childhood back-and-forth, between Memphis [where his dad lives] and D.C. [his mom’s home],” says Turley. “I’m glad I had that experience, living in different places. I actually spent my sophomore year of high school in D.C. [before graduating from Christian Brothers High School in 1997]. Those experiences made me who I am today.
by David S. Waddell
I remember flying into Shanghai in 2007 over vast agricultural fields punctuated with six- to twelve-lane highway bridges spanning irrigation canals but without connected highways on either side! Confused as to their purpose, I asked a government official why these bridges existed. He explained that China’s development plan included moving the Chinese population into cities connected by vast networks of highways and high-speed rail. On course, China has now urbanized 56 percent of its total population, up from 26 percent in 1990, which prompts the question: What’s so great about cities?
Cities are simply defined as higher density population clusters, but something economically magical happens when populations congregate. For starters, the establishment and growth of urban clusters rapidly increases investment activity. Consider Nashville: Of the 190 development projects now under way in Nashville, 40 exceed $100 million according to the Nashville Business Journal. This capital deployment drives new business formations, lower unemployment, and higher personal incomes.
Overall, urban environments also greatly increase labor productivity. Reductions in transportation costs, higher specialization, and hive-like communication networks lead to vast improvements in per capita GDP levels compared with less dynamic rural environments.
by Jon W. Sparks
St. Jude’s 2016-2021 Strategic Plan would have shocked Danny Thomas.
So says Dr. James Downing, the institution’s president and CEO, who observes that the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital had an extraordinarily expansive vision to fulfill and cultivated smart people to bring it about. One of those people — Dr. Donald Pinkel — was chosen in 1961 as the first director and CEO of St. Jude. Downing says he had an opportunity to sit with Pinkel who told him he couldn’t believe what it looks like today and that Danny wouldn’t have believed it either.
It is, after all, a plan that has ambitions on a global scale that emanate from its campus Downtown.
by Ned Canty
Before becoming general director of Opera Memphis in 2011, I spent five years as festival director of the New York Television Festival. Founded in 2005, the NYTVF aimed to be the “Sundance of Television,” leveraging advances in technology to help uncover a new generation of storytellers. It debuted in October 2005, to great success. Two months later, YouTube launched, and instead of the marginal expansion of traditional talent pipelines we were aiming for, we found ourselves in the midst of a massive shift in how content was created, consumed, and paid for.
I have a vivid memory of sitting in a diner with a highly placed TV executive who was convinced his entire world was disappearing before his eyes. TV would be dead within three years, he said. In many ways he was right. Eleven years later, the traditional television business model is a distant memory, torn to shreds by webisodes, streaming services, and a universe of nearly infinite choice. His world is gone, no question. But what replaced it is a new golden age of television. I don’t know about you, but my DVR is bursting with absolutely amazing art right now. If the DVR is empty Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu are standing by to deliver a century of amazing storytelling. TV is dead; long live TV.
I think about this a lot when I meet with colleagues from opera companies in other cities. All of us are watching a slow-motion version of what happened to TV a decade ago. Business models that were stable for years are crumbling. Subscriptions, long the backbone of any arts organization, are declining. Audiences are buying tickets later and later, and in the case of millennials, often waiting until the day of the event to decide what to do on a Saturday night. More people today are cultural omnivores, attending a wide variety of events, rather than committing to a full season of one genre — something that makes perfect sense given the abundance of choices.
by Jon W. Sparks
The way Downtown is getting gussied up, you’d think there’s a bicentennial on the way. In fact, the 200th anniversary of the founding of Memphis by John Overton, James Winchester, and Andrew Jackson is coming in 2019 and if they could see it today, the old entrepreneurs would be astonished at what’s on the bluff. In this issue, we look at three aspects of Downtown development and what the impact is going to be.
First is the expansion of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital a third of the way into its ambitious six-year strategic plan to conquer pediatric cancer. Work that has been done, is underway, and is planned, both on and off campus, is changing everything from nearby neighborhoods to genetics on a global scale.
A bit further south, the once lively but lately moribund Peabody Place is coming back stronger than ever as headquarters to ServiceMaster. The move into one building from various properties out east brings some 1,200 employees to liven up the Downtown scene every day.
Then we have the South Main area, which can’t seem to stop building apartments, condos, and lofts to meet the demands of millennials as well as empty nesters. But is it growing too fast?
by Jon W. Sparks
The recent spate of cyberattacks wasn’t all bad news. There is, after all, nothing like fear to goad people into taking action to prevent viruses that mess with your data and your bitcoin flow.
The malware attacks hit more than 200,000 users and businesses in more than 150 countries and staggered operations in factories, hospitals and global firms, including FedEx.
With all the vulnerability at home and office, there are steps you can take to cut the bandits off at the password.
“Strong IT security comes from the right combination of tech tools, best practices and informed users,” says Drayton Mayers, owner of TeamLogic IT Memphis. The company is part of a nationwide network of managed service providers for businesses.
Mayers says here’s how to minimize the threat:
by Samuel Cicci
Inside Memphis Business magazine hosted its annual Power Players reception at Folk's Folly Steak House. The Power Players issue strives to showcase those at the forefront of business achievement in memphis, representing individuals in industries including banking, finance, law, marketing, philanthropy, and many more. Over 100 successful business people attended the event, sponsored by Travelennium, and were treated to complimentary wine and hors d'oeuvres, while new IMB editor Jon W. Sparks introduced himself to the crowd. If you're looking to meet the movers and shakers of Memphis, there's no better place to be than the IMB Power Players reception. Click through the gallery below for photographs of some of the attendees.
by David S. Waddell
Surprise! Donald Trump won the Presidential election. Additionally, the Republicans swept Congress, creating a legislative freeway for conservatives. Fortunately for investors, the 13 prior congressional sessions dominated by Republicans (President, House, and Senate) since 1901 produced average annual returns of over 8 percent for the Dow Jones Industrial Average. The last time we had a red river flowing through Washington with major tax and trade reform afloat was 1980. Washington fatigue, after the poor political and economic performances of the 1970s, led to a populist revolt catapulting a previously Democratic outsider from California with a spotty acting career into the Oval Office. History may not repeat, but Donald does rhyme with Ronald.
By the end of the 1970s, politicized central bank policies, oil price shocks, and misguided price controls boosted consumer price inflation to over 14 percent in 1980. Jimmy Carter took to the microphone and delivered his “great malaise” speech, blaming America’s ills on Americans’ bad attitude. Ronald Reagan broadcasted his “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” message soon after promising smaller government, less regulation, lower taxes, and revived prosperity. To break the stagflation logjam, Reagan combined tight monetary policy with loose fiscal policy. Monetarily, the Federal Reserve raised interest rates to 20 percent by June of 1981, squelching inflation down to 3 percent by 1983. Fiscally, Reagan’s Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 reduced capital gains rates 28 percent, personal income tax rates 25 percent, and accelerated depreciation allowances to boost business investment. Once the cuts took full effect in 1983, growth surged. For the four years prior to tax reform, the economy averaged annual growth of .9 percent. Over the four years post, the economy grew 4.8 percent annualized. The stock market responded in kind. Spurred by high growth, low inflation, and stable interest rates, U.S. stocks rose 19.5 percent annualized between the years 1983 and 1986.
by Emily Adams Keplinger
The world of marketing and advertising has always been one of responsive evolution. Tastemakers and the general public have a pull that is inarguably unparalleled in most other industries. But through the years, changes in technology, possibly even more than consumers’ taste, have played the biggest role in changing marketing and advertising strategies and delivery. With more than 40 years in the marketing and advertising industry, Anderson Humphreys has witnessed the ongoing development of the field from a simple to a more complex form.
“I came into advertising in the 1970s as a filmmaker with F. Herrick Herrick as my mentor,” recalls Humphreys. “He was the guy who brought Hitchcock over to this country. Ultimately, we developed a TV series called Ports of Call. The series was set in Miami and was distributed to 26 markets.”
Later, Humphreys formed a production company called Hefalump Pictures and began work on The Cayman Triangle, a PG-rated comedy feature film that’s a spoof on the Bermuda Triangle. The film features a number of look-a-likes and Humphreys worked with a voice impressionist to dub in the lines, matching the voice to the face. Subsequently, this became a spin-off and he launched a company called Phonies, using celebrity voices of an impressionist to produce telephone answering machine messages. They were sold in numerous stores around the country including Radio Shack, Target, and Walmart. The latter endeavor evolved into a partnership with the renowned impressionist Rich Little, who did all of the male voices. Julie Dees, wife of former Memphis disc jockey Rick Dees, became the impressionist for all of the female voices.
by Frank Murtaugh
Rola Obaji grew up in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, and Amman, Jordan, where her father, Ali Alhindi, ran travel agencies. She and her two younger siblings traveled the world for what amounted to business trips with their dad. As a result, Obaji’s world view comes from a variety of perspectives, from Paris to Istanbul, from Los Angeles to New York City. The new CEO at McDonald Murrmann Women’s Clinic has called Memphis home for more than a quarter-century now — she fell in love with her husband, Dr. Suhail Obaji, on a visit to Memphis in 1989 — but continues to draw from her global journeys in raising a family and running a business. Perhaps most poignant are her memories, not that long ago, of college life in Syria, at Aleppo University.
“My mom is Syrian, my dad Jordanian,” explains Obaji. “I was born in Aleppo, but I lived between Jordan and Saudi Arabia during my school years [before college].
“Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon . . . these places are beautiful. We have beaches, mountains. It’s very European. It’s nothing like what you see [in the news today]. It’s like judging the United States on the worst neighborhoods in Chicago or Memphis. My kids love to go to [the Middle East]. It has a lot of history, and for all religions. It was inspiring, growing up there. Traveling as I did, it made me more open-minded, more accepting.”
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