Ink (and airwaves) for Rogero

Here come laurels for Mayor Madeline Rogero. On Monday she was interviewed by WNYC’s (the New York City NPR station) “The Takeaway,” for 8 minutes on the Brookings Institution report saying Knoxville is in better shape than it was in 2007 when the recession hit. Some highlights in her interview with John Hockenberry –

  • Rogero says that the city’s high level of government  jobs in the metro area, in Oak Ridge, the University of Tennessee and health care industry gigs have helped the city along.
  • About half way in she pitches the city’s quality of life as an attractor, with the urban wilderness in South Knoxville, proximity to the Smokies and so on as points to lure jobs here. Perhaps some mountain-loving job creators were listening.
  • Spending in tough times on things such as Market Square and other public projects, she said, helped keep things going along. “We did continue to make those strategic investments … we didn’t lay people off.”

… as is becoming a style indicative of one tuned to the gears of bureaucracy (she is a former community development director), Rogero brought perspective in from extremes on the “bad luck” recession and “genius” turnaround in the city. (Rogero laughed at the suggestion such ephemeral influences were at play)

“We recognized that we’re in the regional economy and a global  economy,” she said, speaking to idea that the economy isn’t just in the bubble of Knoxville, “the key is to figure out what we can control.”

On what’s left for the city to do, she said building Suttree Landing Park should spur development on the South Waterfront, while the city will encourage “developers to continue the build-out of historic buildings.”

She closed with the message of sustainability, redevelopment and preservation from her campaign, which is becoming the foundation of her early tenure as mayor.

Again, if you want to check it out (it’s worth the 8 minutes), go here.

The Brookings report is here. It’s tough to poke holes in this report, by the way. Some rules that governed how the data was analyzed:

The period from 1993 to 2007 provides the long-run trend each metropolitan area followed prior to the recession. It provides a benchmark for assessing the degree to which metro areas have returned to their long-run growth trends during 2011-2012.

The year of minimum growth (for GDP per capita and employment separately) between 2007 and 2011 shows the maximum impact of the recent volatile economic period on each metro area

Finally, and most prominently, the report assesses performance from 2011 to 2012, the latest year in this study’s time series. It compares metropolitan performance in this latest year to the 2010 to 2011 period, identifying metro areas where GDP per capita and employment is growing faster, growing slower, or actually declining.

This means that it’s not a comparative snapshot only between now and 2007. Because, if you remember in 2007, both Boeing and Cobalt split from the area, and in 2006 we saw places such as Value Line Textiles, Clarke American, Ace Products, Coca-Cola, Maremont Exhaust Products, Weskem LLC and others contribute to closings bit-by-bit. So the Brookings folks had a good perspective of the area before, and now.

Still, Rogero says the area isn’t totally recovered, that she knows people who don’t have jobs.


Joe Sullivan wrote about her first year in Metro Pulse this week, hitting some of the work done in sustainability and the pension and plenty other points from the administration, while tossing in some props of his own:

 An Energized Downtown: A $6.1 million (250 space) addition to the State Street Garage and $2.5 million for acquisition of the site on which TVA is committed to building an 800- to 1,000-space garage to provide parking for prospective tenants to its own and adjacent vacant office buildings.

She is also proud of having shepherded through an extension of the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance to cover sexual orientation and gender identity.

Overarching these and many other specifics is the caliber of Rogero’s management team in general. It starts with her two chief deputies: Eddie Mannis, who had been CEO of Prestige Cleaners, and Bill Lyons, who is a holdover from the Haslam administration. City government is in good hands.


About Gerald

A journalist in Knoxville, TN. Work (mostly) inside and play (mostly) outside. I'm a part of the X or the Y generation. None of us claim the other.
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