Printer Friendly

Memphis: building positive momentum heading into 2012.

The city of Memphis and Shelby County have experienced a series of incredible economic developments during the last few years, despite the prolonged economic downturn across the country. Our economic development plan put in place five years ago kept us ahead of the national curve and is paying big dividends while continuing to build momentum as we head into 2012.

The Memphis/Shelby County Strategy to Move Forward


The Memphis Economic Development Plan (MemphisED) is one of four major initiatives under the umbrella of Memphis Fast Forward. MemphisED was developed in 2007 as a five-year plan shaped by expert research and the views of more than 3,500 community leaders and citizens. Its goals include attracting new companies, retaining and growing existing firms, and building the logistics and Aerotropolis assets in Memphis/Shelby County. The partnership consists of sixteen local organizations working on fifteen specific strategies to help Memphis/Shelby County achieve five important goals:

1. Develop a culture of innovation and entrepreneurial activity; 2. Market Memphis and Shelby County;

Building Positive Momentum Heading Into 2012 3. Pursue the key target industries of bioscience, logistics, tourism, music, and film;

4. Grow existing firms; and 5. Make Memphis a "place of choice" for knowledge workers.

The partners of MemphisED include the Downtown Memphis Commission, EmergeMemphis, FedEx Institute/University of Memphis, Greater Memphis Chamber, INNOVA, Leadership Academy, Leadership Memphis, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau, Memphis Music Foundation, Memphis/ Shelby County Film & TV Commission, Memphis/Shelby County Office of Economic Development, Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum, MPACT Memphis, Riverfront Development Corp., and Shelby Farms Park.

MemphisED Successes

From January 2008 to June 2011, MemphisED helped create 13,316 jobs with an average annual wage of $40,430 and produced $ 394 million in minority business receipts. The original goal of the five-year plan was to create 49,395 new jobs with an average wage of $51,364. The Great Recession unfortunately slowed job growth in the Greater Memphis area in 2009 and even led to a net loss of nearly 26,000 jobs. We did see improvement during 2010 as losses slowed to only 7,000 jobs, and we saw continued improvement during the first three months of 2011. I anticipate seeing positive net job growth over the next few years, demonstrated already by some of these MemphisED successes:

* The Memphis Music Foundation's Music Resource Center now has 2,221 clients receiving business development assistance, and in 2011, 232 new jobs were created with $8.1 million in earnings.

* Mid South Minority Business Council Continuum activities resulted in $103.0 million in new contracts. In FY2011, the market share of minority firms grew as the Mid-South Minority Business Council Continuum's Revolving Loan Fund closed 20 local construction project contract loans totaling $2.2 million.

* One of the city's most popular improvements, with a direct correlation to better quality of life, has been the expansion of the $7.5 million Shelby Farms Greenline and the implementation of $7.0 million in other planned improvements to Shelby Farms Park. Since the Greenline opened in the fall of 2010 and a new $3.5 million state-of-the-art playground debuted in early 2011, area residents have flocked to Shelby Farms Park for a diverse mix of outdoor recreational activities.

Economic Development in Memphis

Based on the recruiting efforts of the Chamber and its partners, several thousand new job commitments are coming online in the next 24 months, including:

* Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc., announcing 300 new jobs,

* Great American Steamboat Company announcing 300 new jobs,

* Electrolux creating 1,250 new direct jobs and 2,250 indirect jobs, and

* Blues City Brewing creating 500 new jobs.

The result of these additional jobs will be an estimated $101.0 million in new annual payroll and $433.0 million of new capital expenditures by the four companies. Once the jobs are filled and the employees begin to spend their income in the community, these projects will positively impact local businesses and the local tax base. As of October 30, 2011, the Chamber completed 50 Requests for Information and hosted 23 site tours for potential companies interested in Memphis and Shelby County.

Retention and expansion of area businesses is critical to the city's future success. The Greater Memphis Chamber Existing Business Team assisted 94 companies this year, creating 18 projects with 1,620 new jobs, retaining 7,217 jobs, and adding S 326.0 million in total capital investment.

Community Development in Memphis

The Chamber's Community Development department works with various local organizations to improve Memphis' logistics infrastructure, represent local businesses at each level of government, and enhance our workforce. The Community Development department, along with the city of Memphis, has successfully secured a $1.26 million federal grant for Aerotropolis planning and development, as well as securing more than $65.0 million for highway and major road expansion and improvements.

The Aerotropolis initiative has been a vehicle that is driving improvements at the Memphis International Airport--the busiest cargo airport in the Western Hemisphere since 1992--and maintaining our roads, railways, and ports since Memphis is home to the third busiest trucking corridor, the third largest rail system, and the fourth largest inland port in the nation. Our city is also the halfway point of the new 2,600-mile I-69 superhighway running from Canada to Mexico.

Chamber workforce development initiatives have also been successful at placing workers in newly-created positions at companies recruited by the Chamber. Through the creation of a model Summer Youth Program, we have provided nearly 100 Memphis area youths with the skills and knowledge they will need to enter the workforce.

It is vital that we continue to focus on the mission of the economic development plan (MemphisED), which means creating new jobs, increasing capital investment, and bringing higher income opportunities to Memphis and Shelby County. We must also support the other initiatives of the Memphis Fast Forward plan, including the People First program (education and human capital), Operation Sate Community (crime prevention and public safety), and government efficiency.

The Challenges

This year the promise of job creation from large manufacturers like Electrolux and Mitsubishi Electric Power Products, Inc., was delivered. Any momentum must be tempered with the reality that there is a lot of work to accomplish in areas like education and income disparity.

Memphis has a population of 630,699, making it the largest city in Tennessee, the third-largest city in the Southeast, and the twentieth largest city in the nation. However, the city's overall population has declined in the past decade. Memphis and Shelby County have seen an exodus of high-income, well-educated adults and their families who have been moving to neighboring counties in the MSA. Much of the remaining population in the central core is a high concentration of people living in poverty who are dependent upon social services and who lack education and knowledge-based skills to enter the workforce.

According to the most recent data released from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey, an estimated 26.5 percent of residents live in poverty within the Memphis city limits. New Orleans ranked second at 17.4 percent.

Tennessee's most recently reported unemployment rate stands at 9.7 percent, with 11.4 percent for Memphis. Memphis' unemployment rate for African Americans is estimated to be near 18.0 percent.

Poverty levels, education, and crime rates are closely related. Going forward, we, as a community, have to do a better job of educating our citizens in order to reduce the income level disparity between the Hispanic, African American, and Caucasian communities. With roughly 14.0 percent of Shelby County residents lacking basic prose literacy skills and more than one-quarter of Tennessee adults having insufficient knowledge and skills to equip them for minimum-wage jobs, we must focus on innovative educational and training programs designed for our citizens to succeed.

City officials are working hard to make Memphis/Shelby County one of the safest communities of its size in the nation by the end of 2011. Our five-year crime reduction initiative, Operation: Safe Community, has shown very positive results. The plan's fifteen strategies include tougher gun laws and focused initiatives for gang intervention programs, student mentoring, domestic violence, addressing blighted properties, and police officer deployment. The Memphis Police Department's Operation Blue CRUSH initiative works to identify "hot spots" for crime using statistical data, which helps pinpoint concentrations of criminal activity for directing resources more effectively.


Moving forward into 2012 and beyond, we hope to build on our recent successes while also addressing the serious issues that exist within our communities. Memphis has always been a gritty, scrappy city that has succeeded in the face of adversity, and it is that same hard work and self-determination that can lift the city to great heights in the future.


The Greater Memphis Chamber is the lead economic development agency for the city of Memphis and Shelby County and exists to improve the city's quality of life by consistently strengthening the area's existing businesses and serving as a catalyst for new commerce and economic development; to foster partnerships that build a qualified workforce linked to targeted industry, efficient infrastructure, and an environment that stimulates growth; and to accelerate our members' growth and success by connecting people, programs, and resources.

The Greater Memphis Chamber has marketed Memphis' unique assets--logistics, musical heritage, and pioneering medical community--to the world since its inception in 1838.

Special thanks to Adrienne Johnson, Amy Daniels, Joanna Kelly, and Corey Owens.

by John Moore, President and CEO, Greater Memphis Chamber

John Moore is President and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber and his efforts to advance the Memphis business community led to one of the most ambitious public/ private economic development plans in the country, MemphisED. The plan positions Memphis to attract major corporations, grow specialized industry sectors, increase minority businesses, and ensure a knowledge-based workforce. Moore and the Greater Memphis Chamber serve as the lead agency for the MemphisED plan.

Moore serves on several public advisory boards that affect the community's quality of life and deal directly with issues like public safety, education, sports, and utilities. He also participates on the boards of organizations in Memphis that support the community's unique culture and diversity.

Since assuming the role of President of the Chamber, Moore has been selected to represent the Memphis business community nationally by participating on the Committee of 100 for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and in the innovative program, CEO for Cities. He is also a recent inductee into the Society of International Business Fellows.

Before joining the Chamber in September 2005, Moore worked for Northwest Airlines and Trans World Airlines. Moore, a native of St. Louis, earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the University of Missouri, St. Louis, with a double major in Marketing and Finance. He and his wife, Barbara, have two sons, Nathan and Clayton. They moved to Memphis in 1994.
COPYRIGHT 2012 University of Memphis
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Moore, John
Publication:Business Perspectives
Article Type:Company overview
Date:Jan 1, 2012
Previous Article:Lakeland, Tennessee: Mayor Scott Carmichael.
Next Article:Memphis has the edge.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters