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Mayor Strickland's Weekly Update: Dec. 14, 2018
Weekly Update: What Indigo's HQ announcement means for Memphis
Posted on 12/14/2018

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Friends,


I hope by now you've seen this week’s good news: Indigo Ag, an exciting startup in the agricultural technology space, chose Memphis as its new North American operations headquarters and will grow by some 700 new employees in the coming years. (Here’s a good story on the news by Tom Bailey of the Daily Memphian.)

Yes, Memphis has momentum.

Beyond that, Indigo’s story has a few points I don’t want you to miss. Such as:

  • I’ve said in this space before how I view my job: To work together to improve Memphis — not to throw stones or fight partisan political battles. Take the word of Indigo’s CEO, David Perry, for why that matters: “We chose to establish and grow Indigo’s headquarters for North American commercial operations in Memphis because of the proximity to our customers and Indigo Research Partners, the pro-business climate, access to world class talent, and the collaborative relationship between state and city government leaders." Collaboration toward shared goals may not get as many headlines as political conflict, but it’s key. That’s what we work on every single day.
  • These are good jobs, with an average annual salary of more than $60,000. They’re exciting jobs attracting the best and the brightest. We’ve had a run of good jobs recently — jobs with benefits that pay well. St. Jude is expanding by 1,800 jobs in the coming years, for instance.
  • We know, though, that we continue to have challenges with workforce. When I’m visiting local companies, it’s often the first concern I hear. This is why we spend so much time bringing awareness to the issue, and why enhancing workforce development was a part of the economic development plans we announced last month.
  • It’s worth pointing out our advantages in the ag tech sector. Memphis offers big-city amenities mere minutes from big-time ag operations. (I can literally see fields across the river in Arkansas from City Hall.) Savvy business recruiting means going after companies in sectors in which you have advantages, and that’s where we’re moving in our new joint venture with the Economic Development and Growth Engine (EDGE) and our friends at the Greater Memphis Chamber.
  • If you read the Daily Memphian story I linked at the top, you’ll read about something I’ve been doing since I took office — a little under the radar, I’ll admit. I visit local companies to get to know their leaders and see how we can help enable their growth. (I visited Indigo back in August 2017.) Sometimes, it’s just good to build a relationship. And sometimes, there are quick-win infrastructure issues we can solve. I haven’t visited every company in town; far from it. But I want our employer community to know we’re willing to do what it takes to accelerate our job growth.
  • I want to thank the team that worked together to make this a reality — and did so at lightning speed. Indigo leaders first met with us on Sept. 24, we got to work on our strategy as soon as they left, and we learned of their decision on Oct. 23. Jennifer Oswalt and her team at the Downtown Memphis Commission, Reid Dulberger and his team at EDGE, Doug McGowen and Kyle Veazey of our team, and Scott Brockman and his team at the Airport Authority have all been key players in making this a reality. And remember that collaboration we talked about earlier? Well, none of this would have happened without Gov. Bill Haslam, state Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe and ECD Greater Memphis Regional Director Gwyn Fisher. Thanks, everyone.

Bottom line: This is a company wanting to put down roots in Memphis. Look for more and more Indigo employees at the next table at a Downtown restaurant for lunch, or on the pew next to you on Sunday, or volunteering alongside you at a local nonprofit. We’re glad you’re here!

Yours,
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