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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (December 21, 2022)—The EDGE Economic Development Finance Committee approved three projects totaling $60,000 for Inner City Economic Development (ICED) Loans, a program designed to spark revitalization of Memphis inner city neighborhood business districts through funding from PILOT fees.

Mickey’s Popcorn is a family owned and operated gourmet small-batch popcorn company that has outgrown its former church rental space for a larger storefront that can accommodate a potential popcorn production of 6,000 bags per week. Dr. Penny Mickey and Kenneth Mickey, owners and co-founders of the eponymous Mickey’s Popcorn, added a contract to provide popcorn for guests at four Hilton hotels. Recently the company established a licensing partnership with Uncle Nearest Premium Whiskey to launch their latest popcorn flavor, Tennessee Whiskey Caramel, the first of its kind in the market just in time for the holiday season.

The EDGE Economic Development Finance Committee approved the $15,000 ICED Loan request for Mickey’s Popcorn to help renovate the future 3127 Stonebrook Circle location and prepare the space for a commercial snack food manufacturing business. Total qualified project costs are $36,500, not including the $310,000 building purchase. The loan will help the Mickeys renovate the 4,500 square foot building constructed in 1968 by bringing it up to food manufacturing health codes, sealing the concrete floor, installing plumbing upgrades, and improving interior circulation as well as installing an exterior parking area and an upgraded entrance.

Duriya Caldwell founded The Black Pearl Nail Academy, Tennessee’s first full-service specialty manicure school, in 2018. The Finance Committee approved a $25,000 ICED Loan to help complete qualified improvements at the 938 E Brooks Road location. Project costs are estimated to be $175,303 for Ms. Caldwell to renovate the 11,675 square foot building constructed in 1970 and bring it up to trade school codes. Located in Whitehaven with a target demographic of women aged 17-60, the Academy plans to serve Shelby County, West Memphis, Southaven, Horn Lake, and Olive Branch. Ms. Caldwell will provide flexible monthly payments plans and partnerships with federally funded programs such as SNAP to make the program affordable for the public. This project is supported by the Greater Whitehaven Economic Redevelopment Corporation.

Leslie Bridgeforth, owner of Lot-A-Burger, #3 LLC, also received a $20,000 (ICED) Loan from the Finance Committee to help complete $49,750 of qualified improvements at her 2260 S 3rd Street location. The ICED Loan will support renovations of the 804 square foot space constructed in 1956. Construction will include updates to the façade as well as structural, roof, HVAC, and building interior repairs. This project is supported by the South Memphis Renewal CDC.

Funding for the ICED Loan program is generated through the City of Memphis PILOT personal property fees. The 2021 PILOT Portfolio Economic Impact Report revealed PILOT recipients consistently outperformed in job commitments, wages promised, and capital investments achieved—which directly supports and funds smaller businesses seeking assistance with ICED Loans.

The EDGE Board also met and was presented with the 2021 EDGE PILOT Impact Report. This study showed that of the 24,155 committed direct jobs by active PILOTS, these companies achieved 31,129 total jobs. PILOT recipients not only overperformed by job commitments—their achieved average wage of $76,706 exceeded the committed $62,388 wage by over $10,000. Total capital investments for the EDGE active PILOT portfolio showed an achieved $4.8 billion over the initial $3.6 billion that was expected.

This report found that active PILOT projects’ investments:

  • Drove 40,287 indirect jobs in the community
  • Supported nearly 17% of Shelby County jobs
  • Yielded $149,500,580 in local City and County revenue

The EDGE PILOT Portfolio also supported 13.8 billion, or 23.7%, of the $58.6 billion Shelby County GDP.