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"We're open for business".

Perhaps our greatest task each day is to see through the eyes of those we serve, to understand their concerns, and to honor their ideas. These issues are especially true when it comes to business owners. As Shelby County Mayor, the economic stability of our area is at the top of my priority list, as it is with my fellow mayors from the cities and towns in Shelby County.

Since taking office in September 2010, it has been rewarding to see a renewed and more unified approach to attracting new businesses and to helping ensure that existing businesses stay open. The Chamber of Commerce is working on the front lines every, day, showcasing our community to prospective businesses. We have jointly celebrated at ribbon-cutting ceremonies for many new businesses, from large corporations to small retail shops. Perhaps most noteworthy are the Electrolux and Mitsubishi plants that will generate thousands of jobs in Shelby County, both from the corporations and from the vendors that will be a source of supplies for the companies.

Once business representatives look at our area as a prospective site, they are quick to see its benefits: an international airport that is headquarters to FedEx, the Mississippi River which opens the way for barge shipments across the nation, an interstate system that touches several states, and perhaps most importantly a level of cooperation between industries and all levels of government.

It is that cooperation at all levels of government that poses our greatest challenge. We, collectively, have to daily ask ourselves the same questions that lace business owners:

* How easy is it to open a business here?

* How many regulations have to be met to open a business?

* How many appearances before legislative bodies do we have to make to gain approval?

* Once in business, how easy will it be to stay open, both from an economic and operational standpoint?

* Can the needed workforce be supplied from Shelby County?

Indeed, the devil is in the details, which is why we need to constantly review these priority questions if Shelby County is to continue to be a business destination and a place where a business can prosper.

The seemingly endless meetings about economic development, although exhausting at times, are necessary. These meetings are the sites where new ideas are discussed and plans are made to ensure our economic stability.

Memphis Fast Forward, an initiative of the Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce, focuses on broad-based, public-private collaborations, with a strategic focus on measurable results. Memphis Fast Forward's locus areas are economic development, public safety, health and wellness, education, and government efficiency.

Memphis Fast Forward targets the building blocks of our economic health. More than 50 economic development, business, community, and government leaders routinely meet to exchange ideas, plan, and monitor growth strategies. The initiative includes the eight mayors in Shelby County, representatives from the seven chambers of commerce, and other community leaders.

Quite simply, prospective business owners have an open book of information available to them when considering our area as a site location. It is vital that these businesses know the crime statistics in a particular part of the county. And, not only what the statistics are, hut what combined strategies are in place by law enforcement to control or improve the safety of the area. Additionally, the plan gives leaders the chance to see our community's education priorities and how these will help develop a productive workforce and help retain the talent in Shelby County.

I serve on the state-mandated Transition Planning Commission that is literally creating the blueprint for our new public school system in Shelby County. What potential we have at becoming one of the best school systems in the nation! A 21-member panel comprised of CEOs, business leaders, attorneys, former government leaders, and educators is meeting weekly to hammer out the basics for the new system.

Another strategy will be to choose a person who reports to both Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton and me, the President of the Memphis and Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE). EDGE is a new non-profit organization that will help ensure that our economic growth goals throughout the county are met.

Another priority of EDGE will be to help target ways of making it easier for a company to establish a business and then stay in business. And, to determine what regulations and other requirements could be consolidated or even eliminated. In short, how can we make it easier to do business in our community?

As long as we have a vision that we continue to see through the eyes of business owners, both existing and prospective, we may just have that vision realized before our own eyes.

Special thanks to Mr. Steve Shular, Public Information Officer, Shelby County Government

by Mark Luttrell, Jr., Mayor, Shelby County


Mayor Mark H. Luttrell, Jr., took office as Shelby County Mayor on September 1, 2010.

Mayor Luttrell was born in Jackson, Tennessee, and spent his early years in Bells, Tennessee. He moved to Memphis, Tennessee, as a teenager and graduated from Bartlett High School. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Union University and a Master's in Public Administration from the University of Memphis.

His first job after college was teaching history at Bradford County High School, Starke, Florida. He served two years in the Army, stationed in Louisiana, Texas, and Germany. Returning to Memphis, Mayor Luttrell began his career in criminal justice at the Shelby County Penal Farm, serving as the vocational training director.

He joined the United States Bureau of Prisons in 1977 and served with that organization until his retirement in 1999. He also served as warden of federal prisons in Texarkana, Texas; Manchester, Kentucky; and Memphis, Tennessee. He was then appointed Director of the Shelby County Division of Corrections and served there until his election as Sheriff of Shelby County in 2002 and again in 2006.

During his tenure as Sheriff, the Shelby County Jail men's and women's divisions were removed from federal court oversight and went on to receive national accreditation by the American Corrections Association. The jail medical units also received separate national accreditation certifications. Additionally, the law enforcement division of the Sheriff's Office was accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies.

While Sheriff, Mayor Luttrell graduated from the FBI National Executive Institute (NEI) and in 2009 was named "Sheriff of the Year" by the National Sheriffs' Association. He was also selected Lawman of the Year for the Kiwanis' Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee districts.

Mayor Luttrell's desire is to help Shelby County have one of the most effective and efficient governments in the nation. As Mayor, he received the "Bobby Dunavant Public Servant Award" in 2010 for extraordinary service to the citizens of Shelby County.

He is a member of the Germantown Kiwanis Club and serves as a board member of the Memphis-Shelby Crime Commission, Operation Safe Community, Memphis Second Chance, the University of Memphis Arts and Sciences Advisory, Union University Alumni Advisory, and is a member of Second Baptist Church.

Mayor Luttrell is a Leadership Memphis graduate and a distinguished recipient of the Outstanding Alumni Award of the University of Memphis College of Arts and Sciences.

He and his wife, Pat, have three children, Lynnette, Mark, and Margaret, and five grandchildren.
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Author:Luttrell, Mark, Jr.
Publication:Business Perspectives
Date:Jan 1, 2012
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