Last Word: Mike Rose, Bartlett High Options and Memphis- Nashville Talk

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Daily News (April 2, 2017)
Bill Dries

Mike Rose transformed Memphis-made Holiday Inn from a single brand to multiple brands and a corporation that transformed the hospitality industry as casino gaming spread beyond Las Vegas and Atlantic City in the 1990s. During his time at the helm of Holiday Inns and Promus Companies, Rose was also one of the city’s most influential corporate leaders with the money and ability to raise money and set terms that made possible the transformation of St. Jude into a research institution and pointed the University of Memphis in that direction as well. Rose died Sunday in Nashville of cancer.

In recent years, Rose had been chairman of First Horizon National Corp. and chairman of Nashville-based Gaylord Entertainment Inc. His involvement in the civic life of Memphis in the late 1980s and early 1990s made him among the city’s most prominent corporate citizens if also one of its quietest.

But his impact on the city through his business leadership and his civic leadership is incalculable and his sense of timing on the future of the hospitality industry was prophetic.

It was as an attorney in Cincinnati that Rose caught the eye of Holiday Inns executives, including founder Kemmons Wilson. Rose represented the largest franchisees of the motels. He moved to Memphis in the late 1970s to work for Holiday Inns and climbed the company’s ladder ultimately becoming chairman, president and CEO. More important than the titles was the direction he took the company with an expansion of the Holiday Inns brand to include Embassy Suites, Homewood Suites and Hampton Inns. He was also instrumental in Holiday Inn’s aquisition of Harrah’s Entertainment. The casinos and hotels were combined in 1990 into Promus Companies when the Holiday Inn brand was sold to the newly formed corporation headed by Rose and remaining in Memphis

Promus emerged as casino gaming broke out of Las Vegas and Atlantic City including its arrival in Mississippi in the early 1990s in Tunica and on the Gulf Coast. Rose and Promus pushed to move the casinos closer to the border with Memphis, failing to win referendums in DeSoto County for casino gaming. He was also involved in preliminary discussions to legalize casino gaming in Tennessee with an arrangement that would have permitted a single casino in Memphis likely on Mud Island.

 

While that didn’t pan out, Rose’s innovation in the hospitality industry was an important asset in the rise of the tourism industry in Memphis. Rose was also among the business leaders involved in the campaign to keep St. Jude from nearly moving to St. Louis in the late 1980s when Washington University made the hospital an attractive offer on a campus that was already an existing research center.

A quote from Rose that is part of his page in the Memphis Society of Entrepreneurs:

“As we enter a true global economy, it is vitally important that American business leaders recognize and understand the role entrepreneurship has played in our success. As new economies continue to emerge from the oppression of communism, the devastation of internal revolution or the demoralization of poverty, they, too, will discover that it is the entrepreneurs who lead the way to economic success and personal liberty. To remain a world leader we must see to it that our own spirit of entrepreneurship is burning as brightly as those who are embracing it for the very first time.”

Lakers over Grizz in Los Angeles Sunday 108-103 with four Grizz out for injuries and Vince Carter resting for the playoffs. The Grizz in San Antonio Tuesday for a preview of the opening adversary in the playoffs. The regular season has five games left for the Grizz.

Tuesday marks 49 years since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis and there are a number of events around town to commemorate an event whose impact we still feel and discuss today as we examine where our city has been and where it is going.

New national data shows African-American homeowners were hit harder disproportionately by the recession than homeowners overall – a 41.5 percent home ownership rate among black Americans compared to 72 percent for white Americans. Keep in mind home ownership rates overall are at a 30 year low. This in a single family residential market that is now dominated by investors buying homes to rent them to others.

From Don Wade’s cover story on Redbirds box office in The Memphis News this quote from Redbirds owner Peter Freund: “Reconciling our attendance with the first several years at AutoZone Park is impossible. It’s not that realistic for us to shoot for. … The sports landscape has changed. The city has changed. And entertainment has changed.”

 

One thing that has not changed even as the team ownership has gone from the Redbirds Foundation to the St. Louis Cardinals to Freund is the city of Memphis remains the owner of the ballpark.

As promised last week, more on Bartlett’s plans to reconfigure the Bartlett High School campus. This is about a four-year process if approved by the school board and the board of aldermen in Bartlett because it involves a transformation of a campus that will remain in use while several buildings are demolished, new buildings are constructed and still other buildings are renovated. As noted last week, there were five options. The other four ranged in price from $100 million to $120 million. This one is $60 million and keeps the 9th Grade Academy at the old Shadowlawn School, which was an early nod to the necessity for this overhaul of the campus.

In the story, Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald talks about the need for a property tax hike to partially finance this project and touches on the impact online or internet sales are having on sales tax revenue in Tennessee. Two lawsuits were filed in Nashville Chancery Court last week on this issue by online retailers taking aim at the state’s requirement that all large retailers start collecting state sales tax for online purchases made by Tennessee residents regardless of where their bricks and mortar are.

The communications firm DCA is moving within South Main to the old Nabisco distribution center on Huling.

Shelby County Commissioners meet Monday and you can follow the meeting live @tdnpols, www.twitter.com/tdnpols, for the latest developments.

And Pinnacle Bank making moves in its front office as well as making plans to build a new front office.

The Bluegrass Situation has a Q&A by Stephen Deusner with singer-songwriters Cory Branan and Coco Hames that is one of the best dialogues you will ever read on the Memphis-Nashville thing and the view of both cities from the stage is a reminder that musicians and songwriters don’t turn off their powers of observation when they walk onstage. They can see pretty far beyond the stage lights.

The Memphis News Almanac: Barrier Up on the Greensward, Poco at the Shell, Northgate Theater and the Tennessee Brewery closes.