Memphis to Hand Out Corporate Welfare to Indigo Ag

Another company, Indigo Ag, is getting corporate welfare to come to Memphis.

According to The Daily Memphian, Memphis’ Economic Development Growth Engine gave what the paper called a modest incentive of $109,000 in city and county tax savings over 15 years and a $150,000 grant.

Indigo Ag will bring 625 new corporate jobs to downtown Memphis and will pay an average salary of $92,383, the paper reported.

“The salary level revealed Friday by the Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) staff is part of the equation the agency used to propose an incentive for the ag-tech company to establish its North American commercial operations headquarters in Memphis,” according to The Daily Memphian.

“But the company will likely receive about $5 million in total incentives, counting $4.5 million proposed from the state and more grants from the Center City Development Board.”

From EDGE, Indigo Ag wants $259,807 in local tax savings and grants over 15 years. This, the paper went on to say, is in return for adding 625 jobs that pay more than $90,000 yearly, The Daily Memphian said.

“The various local and state agencies made public the incentive proposals two days after Indigo Ag, along with state and local officials, announced the company plans to establish a major presence downtown,” according to the newspaper.

“At EDGE, the benefit-to-cost ratio is unusually large in favor of Memphis and Shelby County taxpayers for an EDGE payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) incentive.”

As The Tennessee Star reported, Memphis taxpayers may soon know less about the companies that want corporate welfare in exchange for expanding or relocating their business to Memphis.

This depends on a pending opinion from the state attorney general and how he interprets Tennessee’s open records law. That pending opinion will weigh in on whether Memphis officials can keep hidden three pieces of information from the public — the name of the company applying for an incentive, its parent company, and its address.

EDGE board members, of course, will know who the company is.

As The Tennessee Star reported, EDGE is an unelected board of 11 people who have enough power to grant millions of dollars in tax abatements to corporations.

Under the current system, the EDGE CEO is accountable only to Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris.

Both mayors appoint the EDGE board of directors, although county commissioners and city council members vote to confirm them.

Otherwise, county commissioners and city council members have no sway over their respective mayors.

As The Tennessee Watchdog reported several years ago, EDGE previously gave $9.5 million in tax incentives to bring IKEA to Memphis.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Indigo Ag” by Indigo Ag. Background Photo “Memphis Skyline” by jive667 CC2.0.







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