Published on: 16 September 2020
JACOB STEIMER | MEMPHIS BUSINESS JOURNAL
The Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE) for Memphis & Shelby County board has been nothing if not steady since the agency was created in 2011.
Six of its nine members have served since 2011. On Monday, the Shelby County Board of Commissioners approved the first new member since 2017 — former Memphis City Council member Gerre Currie.
EDGE CEO Reid Dulberger said he's excited by the fresh perspective Currie will bring, given her career as a community development banker. EDGE has added multiple new programs targeted at inner-city neighborhoods — Inner City Economic Development (ICED) Loans, Neighborhood Emergency Economic Development (NEED) Grants, Community Builder PILOTs — in recent years, which he expects her to help with.
"If you look at her finance background — unlike [board member and Patriot Bank president Larry Jackson] and [outgoing board member and retired Union Planters Bank chairman Jack Moore] — she's got a focus on more smaller, inner city work," Dulberger said. "[Community development] is not something that EDGE was initially created to do. It's a mission we have identified and grown into. … So, having a board member for whom this is second nature is going to be very helpful for us."
Currie — who represented parts of Whitehaven and South Memphis on City Council — agreed with Dulberger's assessment that she'll be able to bring a fresh perspective to EDGE.
"[Jackson and Moore] are more at the 2,000-foot level and I'm more [at] ground [level]. A lot of what EDGE works with … neighborhood revitalization, small business, and workforce development … I've touched a lot of those components in the community," she said.
EDGE board members are appointed by either Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris or Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. When asked if Moore had decided to step away, Dulberger said it was Strickland who decided he wanted to make a change.
Moore's term expired at the end of 2018, but he continued serving. As of October 2019, five members were serving on expired terms. With the board of commissioners renewing the appointments of Mark Halperin and Johnny Moore on Monday, only Larry Jackson now serves on an expired term.
"Members who have an expired term serve until there are new appointments," EDGE marketing specialist Stefanie Barrett told the MBJ in October 2019. "In the past, there have [been] discussions regarding appointments; however, these are often put aside to address more pressing matters."