Despite some rainy days and high water, the sun continues to shine on the Memphis and Shelby County economic development strategy. Blue skies greeted executives of Mitsubishi Electric as they attended a groundbreaking ceremony for their new manufacturing plant in the Bluff City.
Memphis was ready to welcome a potential "economic rainmaker" to town in Mitsubishi Electric Power Products.
"The sun is out," said Memphis Mayor A C Wharton. "Economic future is brighter. So, it's just a bright day."
Wharton joined Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell in paying homage to the Japanese-based company during a ground breaking ceremony at what will be their Bluff City home in Rivergate Industrial Park. Company President and CEO Brian Heery led a contingent of executives and clients who got their first glimpse at the site, of what will be a $200 million 350,000 square foot factory and office building scheduled to be completed in 2013.
"We have had great support from your Chamber of Commerce here. We appreciate that so much," he said. "So, as fast as everything's going we're still a little bit ahead. And these next two years honestly will go by in a blink for us."
With huge power transformers as the focus of its manufacturing, the facility will eventually employ 275 people. But Mayor Luttrell noted that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how transforming just the presence of a company like Mitsubishi could figure to be to community advancement.
"Some tremendous advances in economic development, addressing some of the issues of poverty in our community.... elevating the issues of education," Luttrell said.
While Heery acknowledged his excitement over the progress made so far, he admitted it was tinged by the damage flood waters have inflicted. It was genuinely one of those 'the company with a big heart' moments.
"We know that nearby there's some people that are struggling. So, we're here celebrating, but it puts a little bit of a damper on it and we wish all those folks well," Heery said.
So, it didn't rain. It was hot, and summer's not even here yet. But, still it was a good day to do business.
"We're challenged. We have some opportunities. We have some responsibilities. So today is a good day to commit to all of those," said Luttrell.