The decisions and negotiations that City Hall makes with both local and major businesses try to advocate for change. Change that attempts to provide the best impact for the greatest amount of people. Modern-day established norms along with general processes taken place in City Council Meetings have provided me with a base for understanding this and gave me insight on a particular definition of what democracy means.
I noticed this form of democracy at a City Council Meeting I attended in Memphis. The type of negotiation and decision making I saw is commonly seen within city council meetings across the United States but is distinctively different in the City Of Memphis because of its exclusivity with certain businesses in the city.
When the council was discussing the budgets and allowance in order for other companies to donate money to certain programs organized by the city, Nike was brought up. In a sense, that inspired me to think about the impact Nike has had on the City and how did democracy play a part in doing so.
Democracy has been defined in so many different ways, but instead of talking about democracy in a political sense, I am going to refer to it empirically. Which is the manner in which the definition is being used in this blog. To break down what I mean by political in terms of democracy, I am talking about the democratic process, in which the people elect an individual to represent them and there believes. When I mention democracy in its empirical form, I am referring to it as a means of providing the greatest good for the largest amount of people which is Dahl’s interpretation of what democracy means. I will argue how Dahl’s definition of democracy is seen on the local level when trying to determine how and where companies and businesses operate and how it turned out in favor of the city and in some case not.
A few years ago Nike made a 301 million dollar expansion in Memphis, making Nikes distribution center in Memphis the biggest in the
world. The distribution center is the size of 49 football fields, which is 2.8 million square feet, it has 33 miles of conveyor belts and 73 outbound doors. What this expansion meant for the City of Memphis was an increase in the number of jobs, in turn, providing a positive economic impact on the City from Nike as well as externalities in the market concerning, employment of contractors during the building process, Revitalizing the Frayser area, when Nike came in the area. The Frayser Community Development Corp stated buying surrounding properties to the advance these efforts, and because Nikes as a brand means so much in today’s economy it brings in new businesses and establishes a norm for the type of businesses allotted in the particular area. However, this deal with the city didn’t come out without compromise between Nike and City Hall. When city hall is working with businesses, they are working with them to provide the greatest impact on the most amount of people.
Because Nike expansion had a significant impact on Memphis, in turn, the City Council board in Memphis and Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine that provided them with a 57.8 million dollar tax break. Over 15 years while Nike has generated 105.3 million dollars in tax revenue for the city in that period of time. Nike is a prime example of democracy working on a local level that benefits the greatest amount of people.
Nikes partnership with the city of Memphis was a great success and showed democracy at work but that isn’t always the case when the city has tried to advocate for relationships with different companies and organizations that have attempted to locate within the City of Memphis region.
Late last year Amazon was a potential company was considering coming to The City of Memphis. As a spoiler, if it wasn’t obvious, Amazon decided to settle in Nashville. It is not necessary an evident reason why exactly Memphis couldn’t get the sells giant in their region but there is some logical reasoning behind the decision and how democracy did not necessarily work out in Memphis’s favor. Amazon launched this initiative called HQ2 which entailed a certain city ( Nashville and Memphis) to submit
a bid to get the company. After negotiating with both Nashville and Memphis, Amazon came to the conclusion based on the education of the workforce relative to Memphis. Amazon believed that Nashville workforce is better to prepare for a company like Amazon that requires high skills in the sciences. So in terms of democracy, it would have benefited a greater amount of people in Nashville as well as a better more for the company because of the wider range of skilled workers.
Dries, Bill. “Nike Formally Opens $301 Million Frayser Expansion.” Memphis Daily News, 2015, www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2015/jun/25/nike-formally-opens-301-million-frayser-expansion/.
Saino, Joe. “Why Amazon Chose Nashville Over Memphis.” Memphis Flyer, Memphis Flyer, 3 Mar. 2019, www.memphisflyer.com/memphis/why-amazon-chose-nashville-over-memphis/Content?oid=18214513.
Starner, Ron. “Tennessee: The Waiting Game Is Over | Site Selection Magazine.” Site Selection, 2019, siteselection.com/issues/2019/jan/tennessee-the-waiting-game-is-over.cfm.