Opinion » Editorial

A Mixed Bag in 2014

The good, bad, and semi-ugly for year just past.

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If you're standing up, sit down; if you're sitting down, stand up — whatever you need to do to take stock of the year that just passed or get ready for the new one. Frankly, we don't know whether to be shocked, bemused, or encouraged.

There was a rush of things at year's end regarding which we're just going to have to wait and see.

To start with, it was one of the most satisfying: Yes, considering how often we've been on the short end of the stick in matters having to do with our relations with our sister city of Nashville, it does feel good to have something to gloat about. Folks up that way may not have noticed how well our NBA Grizzlies did in 2014 compared to their NFL Titans, but they dang sure noticed when the Swedish furniture giant IKEA chose to locate its newest mega-store not in the Middle Tennessee environs of the state's capital city but on a generous stretch of land along Highway 64 in our own Shelby County bailiwick — within the city limits of Memphis, in fact. We know from things we read or saw on TV or picked up online that Nashville had been competing pretty hard for that honor. 

The folks there had let it be known that they were tired of having to truck the 250 miles or so to Atlanta to shop for the nifty, lightweight, modernist stuff that IKEA makes. Well, the good news for Nashvillians is, they won't have to drive quite so far to get to the IKEA store in Memphis. And, in season, they'll be able to take in a Grizzlies game while they're here, and, you know, get that sense of what it's like to be a winner.

Along with the news that Target intends to locate a fulfillment center here, the news about IKEA would seem to provide some justification for the high hopes that had been invested in the joint city/county EDGE (Economic Development Growth Engine) board, as well as to allay some of the doubts about that board's incentives policy.

We still think, though, that the policy of attracting new business and industry through the liberal use of PILOTS (payments-in-lieu-of-taxes) needs careful oversight, lest it be abused. We don't have much of a tax base for public purposes to start with, and to squeeze it much further could be counter-productive — and regressive. Surely nobody needs to be reminded that the city's first responders are aggrieved by changes wreaked in their health-care and pension options as a result of austerity measures in local government. Nor has memory faded about the recent outbursts in public violence that caused such concern about our ability to counter or contain them. 

We are ending the 2014 year with a nice seasonal glow, thanks to some successes like those mentioned above, and we're grateful. But we're well aware from the all too obvious disturbances and discontent that have also manifested themselves that we have continuing and grave problems that have not gone away. It's a mixed bag, but Happy Holidays is still the right thing to say. So we do.

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