The Memphis Flyer rightly berates the Memphis Regional Chamber of Commerce for not helping Marion, Arkansas to secure a billion dollar Toyota plant. While Nashville and Gov. Bredesen try to woo Toyota into Eastern Tennessee, our city should be doing everything possible to help bring this job-generating, revenue pumping facility to a location just 10 miles away, even if it is across the river.

Memphis has been getting whipsawed by Mississippi and Arkansas for years. Those states and their bedroom suburbs attract Memphis residents, teachers, professionals, buildings, and businesses with an above-board campaign touting supposedly lower taxes and bigger incentives, and a whisper campaign driven by fears of race and crime.

True, except for the fact that the “whisper campaign driven by fears of race and crime” is more like a full blown rock opera complete with super-powered amplifiers and a laser light show.

Yet revenue will even help alleviate our crime problems; with revenue comes employment, with employment and integration into society comes the rule of law. It is estimated that the 2,000 jobs at the Toyota facility could generate as many as an additional 10,000 jobs in the surrounding communities.

The Mid-South is the epicenter of “the new Detroit,” as New York Times reporter Michelin Maynard has written. Kentucky, Alabama, Middle Tennessee, and Mississippi have landed huge plants from General Motors, Mercedes, Nissan, and others. Drive south 180 miles from Memphis on Interstate 55 and you will see the sprawling Nissan plant in Madison, Mississippi, just north of Jackson. That’s an economic magnet and industrial powerhouse that runs 365 days a year and pays good wages to thousands of ordinary people, not a handful of professional athletes.

Well said.

Update: According to one financial expert, Marion looks like the more likely pick:

Michael Randle, editor and publisher of Southern Business and Development magazine in Birmingham, Alabama, said he has correctly predicted most auto assembly plant sites, starting with BMW in South Carolina in 1992.

He is not ruling out Chattanooga, but he guesses Toyota will pick Marion, Arkansas, this time.