Just a few additional thoughts on where to invest then and now…

+ Clean Up. This is one basic that wasn’t mentioned in the earlier post. Long-time Memphians took special pride in being the “Cleanest City in America” for years. So the continuing and obvious decline in the cleanliness of our streets and neighborhoods has been a particular sore spot. Cities must project confidence to succeed, and our filthy streets send exactly the opposite message.

+ Think Very Big Region. The previous post called for acting regionally. But what is our region? Is it the MSA? What assets do we capture by defining our region that way? The people who have fled Shelby County? Casinos? I suggest we think much bigger when we talk about the Memphis region. Why shouldn’t Little Rock be paired with Memphis? How about St. Louis? Even Nashville? Who can we collaborate with to build global competitiveness?

+ Leverage the Lessons of FedEx. Our typical response to the opportunity FedEx offers Memphis is to build more warehouses to support “just in time” logistics. But FedEx is one of the world’s great companies. Its early growth was predicated on finding small loopholes in the law and exploiting them. As a young company, it assumed a cheeky attitude, taking on the U.S. Postal Service in a frontal assault and winning. This is a company — unlike its competitor — that can tell you where any package is at any time. And this bunch of Memphians competes nightly in the international marketplace. How do we spread those lessons to hundreds of other local companies? What can City Hall learn from FedEx? Isn’t that the real value of FedEx to Memphis?

+ Memphis as a Model for Tolerance? You’d be surprised. Working in other cities, some with substantial African-American populations, I note that civic and government meetings in those cities rarely reflect the same racial diversity as a similar meeting in Memphis. Hard to believe? Yes. But true. We don’t give ourselves nearly enough credit on this score.

Memphis needs a project. We need something that can involve and inspire us all, that builds value and values.

What are your ideas?