- Associated Press - Friday, August 15, 2014

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - Mississippi may be trying to lure another distribution warehouse across the state line from Memphis.

Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell told The Commercial Appeal (https://bit.ly/1mQsLrO) that local and state officials in Tennessee are preparing incentives to retain a facility run by diesel engine maker Cummins Inc.

A number of distribution centers and factories have moved into Mississippi’s DeSoto and Marshall counties in recent years.

Mississippi can offer income tax breaks, property tax breaks, training money and cash inducements, while Tennessee relies on local property tax reductions and state-level training grants.

Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton would not confirm specifics Thursday.

“But it’s no secret that we’re always in head-to-head competition that grows more intense every day with other states and cities and of course Mississippi is one of those,” Wharton said.

Speaking at a meeting Tuesday night, Wharton said Mississippi has $8 to $9 million in incentives on the table for an employer he didn’t name.

Jim Flanagan, chief executive officer of the DeSoto County Economic Development Council, said he was “not at liberty to discuss” Cummins.

Cummins, based in Columbus, Indiana, expects to expand, adding about 50 jobs. Company spokesman Jon Mills says the company is considering its options.

“Memphis has been a great environment for more than 20 years for this facility,” Mills said.

Revenue losses from property tax abatements have been criticized by some Memphis residents and municipal union leaders, especially as the city has cut employee benefits in recent months. More than 400 abatement contracts reduced property taxes for companies in Memphis and Shelby County by about $60 million last year.

Memphis business leaders and economic development officials say tax breaks are needed to keep businesses from relocating to the Mississippi suburbs. The Greater Memphis Chamber reports nine major companies have recently moved distribution or manufacturing operations to Mississippi, costing Memphis and Shelby County nearly 2,300 jobs and more than $500 million in new investment.

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Information from: The Commercial Appeal, https://www.commercialappeal.com

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