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Corporations and their political allies deploy state preemption to stop local progress and block the abilities of local governments to act on the values and needs of their communities. This report uses data from Colorado, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee to demonstrate how communities, particularly low-income women of color, are working towards equitable policies around paid sick days, wages, and affordable housing, only to be blocked at the state level by lawmakers caving to corporate pressure or following an anti-regulation agenda.
Citywide development that uses traditional business practices, which have historically benefitted from and perpetuated racialized inequality, can threaten to displace the most disadvantaged communities. This report provides tools and resources for groups that are advocating for more equitable, progressive development in their cities; these practices address the housing affordability crisis, displacement of long-term residents, low and stagnant wages, unemployment, persecution of immigrants, over-policing of communities of color, and a host of other issues affecting a city’s residents. Additionally, this report includes a checklist and guidelines for establishing and moving a successful coalition.
As construction activity in the southern United States continues to flourish, concern over workers’ health and safety grows. Economic hardships, few or no opportunities for career advancement, unstable work, injuries, and even death on the job are commonplace for construction workers in the South. This report examines the working conditions of 1,435 construction workers in six major cities in the southern U.S, in order to document the most critical issues facing construction workers in major construction markets and provide information to guide possible solutions.
What would have to happen for the city of Memphis to reduce poverty by 10% within 10 years – lowering it from 27% to 17% – and fundamentally shift economic opportunity and well-being for low-income residents? Today, there are 180,741 Memphis residents living below the poverty line ($23,550 for a family of four). Achieving a 10 percentage point reduction means moving 64,000 individuals out of poverty. It will require a combination of more and better jobs; better access to areas of job growth; lower household expenses for energy, transportation and water; and opportunities for economic advancement that are built on public safety, education, health, supportive services, and affordable housing. This report outlines key improvements that must be made in jobs, resource efficiency, transportation, and social services that Memphis must make to achieve this goal.
Using local and state associations, massive corporations and their overwhelmingly white, male leadership are driving forward a strategy to keep wages low and rents high by stripping away local democratic power. This report focuses on five states—Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Michigan and Colorado—where people’s campaigns are underway to challenge corporations’ hold on democracy and allow cities to protect workers and tenants. By exposing these corporations and their harmful, anti-democratic actions, this report aims to help the many people organizing to challenge corporate interference.
The City of Memphis has deliberately avoided its municipal pension obligations at the same time it has granted a series of costly property tax abatements, such as payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs), to large corporations and sports franchises. For every year between 2009 and 2012, the revenues lost by Memphis to economic development subsidies exceeded the annual cost of funding the city’s pension system. This report outlines the burdens of PILOTs, and ultimately determines that Memphis’ spending on subsidy deals is eroding the revenues needed to adequately fund public services.
Early child development and education programming have proven to be effective investments in both young children and the communities in which they live. An international body of research points to strong evidence that high-quality early child development and early education policies, with appropriate standards and accountability, yield many more benefits than costs through the use of finite community resource dollars. Not only do young children acquire important social-emotional skills that yield long term benefits to both society and individual families, but the early years are the greatest opportunity to develop cognitive skills for optimal brain development, healthy habits, and lay a foundation for years of future academic success. Employers also capture short and long-term benefits for their local firms when early care and education is supported. Yet many communities, including Nashville-Davidson County have not made concentrated, comprehensive efforts to support robust and aligned early care and education efforts to ensure the sustained healthy development and success of their youngest citizens.
Memphis is experiencing unequal growth; while some neighborhoods are benefitting from new development, increased investments and an increase in high-paying jobs, others are experiencing decline or lagging in growth. This paper examines how economic development activities are structured, organized, and financially supported in Memphis as one explanation for its current growth challenges. Additionally, this report looks at how Atlanta, Detroit, St. Louis, and New Orleans organize their economic development agencies and activities, in order to explore other models that might bring Memphis greater equity and inclusion.
Instant runoff voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. This ordinance states that the City of Memphis will use instant runoff voting for City elections.
Suffering from years of disinvestment and persistently high rates of poverty, this case study shows how Memphis city officials joined forces with the private and nonprofit sectors to have a collective impact on some of the city's most pressing social issues.