If International Paper sticks to its self-imposed 30-day deadline, a decision on moving its headquarters from Stamford, Connecticut, to Memphis should come by August 19th. The Stamford Advocate has reported that Connecticut governor M. Jodi Rell is trying to keep the headquarters in her state. "I am confident that after meeting with me that you will find that Connecticut - specifically the City of Stamford - can continue to be the best location for your world headquarters for many years to come," Rell wrote in a letter to IP CEO John Faraci.
If IP does move the headquarters to Memphis, it's not clear whether Memphis would have a net gain or loss because the company is also downsizing by a third or more. There are 134 employees in Stamford and approximately 3,000 employees and contractors in Memphis. IP is selling off or closing businesses that account for roughly 40 percent of its income. A commensurate cut in Memphis operations would mean losing hundreds of jobs.
❥ State senator Steve Cohen of Memphis says executives of the Tennessee lottery enjoy "the most generous compensation package of any lottery in the world." The Nashville Tennessean agrees, giving Cohen plenty of ink in its news columns and editorials again this week. Lottery CEO Rebecca Paul can earn as much as 65 percent of her $364,000 salary in bonuses, depending on yearly growth in the lottery. Paul was recruited by Tennessee after running lotteries in Georgia, Illinois, and Florida. Cohen sponsored the lottery bill and worked for its passage for nearly 20 years.
❥ If The Pyramid becomes an aquarium, as some have suggested, it would have competition from not only Chattanooga and New Orleans but also Atlanta. The $200 million Georgia Aquarium is scheduled to open in November, with private funding by Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has called the aquarium the city's biggest deal since the 1996 Olympics. The New York Times wrote about it this weekend, saying: "Aquariums have done so well for other cities that they have become municipal status symbols - one that Atlanta is somewhat late to acquire. Of the 36 aquariums in the United States accredited by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, nearly half have opened in the past 15 years."
❥ Jackson, Mississippi's new mayor, Frank Melton, is the talk of the town since taking office July 5th. The tough-talking former broadcasting executive and head of the state Bureau of Narcotics has cleaned house at the police and fire departments and public boards and personally led crime sweeps while wearing a baseball cap backwards. Melton, 55, beat two-term incumbent Harvey Johnson with 63 percent of the vote in the May primary, then won the general election with 89 percent of the vote. "Melton's zeal to fix the problems is refreshing, especially since these are the same problems that have plagued the city and county for years," says the Jackson Clarion-Ledger in an editorial.