The Many Faces of Economic Development
Economic development doesn’t always mean bringing new companies to town or nurturing local entrepreneurs. Sometimes it means helping people reach their potential.
Yesterday was a flurry of activity around Memphis’ economy. Not only did the council approve Mayor Mark Lutrell and Mayor A C Wharton’s joint proposal to streamline economic development through the EDGE initiative, they also voted to approve the $22 million city bond issue needed to bring Electrolux to Memphis.
“We need to instituational the teamwork we used for the Electrolux deal,” said Mayor A C Wharton. “That’s why we put together our new EDGE initiative.”
Electrolux should bring 1,240 jobs to Memphis; EDGE should bring other companies.
But yesterday also saw a lot of information about teen pregnancy intiatives, especially Girls Inc.’s bold, new No Baby campaign.
Sparked by an influx of pregnant high schoolers in Frayser — teen pregnancies make up 26 percent of all pregnancies in Frayser — the No Baby campaign is designed to help girls identify the resources they need to learn how to say no and to prevent teen prenancies.
Already, Girls Inc. operates the Preventing Adolescent Parenting Program in several Memphis City Schools to teach girls about their bodies, how contraceptives work, and the difficulties the come with having a baby.
No Baby adds a web component, as well as links on how to obtain birth control.
Mayor Wharton, at a press conference yesterday, was quick to say: “We’re not just talking about the numbers, but the young lives affected by teen pregnancy.”
And we’re not just talking about the babies that are born, but the mothers they are born to.
Similar to not having a college degree, having a baby out of wedlock is a strong indicator that a person will fall below the poverty line.
(It’s not a guarantee, just an indicator.)
“Teen pregnancy is an economic issue,” Mayor Wharton told the Rotary Club yesterday. “The numbers show that when a teen gets pregnant, it ends her education.”
Ask any parent — children are expensive. Add to that lower education levels, and the jobs that are available to those with only a high school degree or some college, and the situation becomes less promising.
On a larger scale, it affects the entire community through median incomes, property taxes, and poverty rates.
But there’s something that may be missing in all the talk about Frayser High School: There may be a lot of girls at that school who are pregnant or have recently had babies, but for now, at least, they’re still in school.