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MEMPHIS CROSSROADS: Paving the Way for Local Business

The following is an article from the spring issue of the Memphis Crossroads. Click here to read the full magazine. 

Every business could use some help in shouldering the load once in a while, right? 

The Greater Memphis Chamber knows something about rolling up its sleeves and pitching in. And Cooper Freight was glad to have the help.

Cooper Freight started in 1975 hauling air freight to and from Memphis International Airport. It’s a growing business located at 1081 Arkansas St. just east of I-55 and north of McLemore Ave. 

The company eventually acquired all the property along the length of Arkansas St. up to Wisconsin Ave. 

Arkansas St. is a public street that provided access not only to Cooper but to other businesses there. But as General Manager Mark Cooper says, he acquired all the property along Arkansas St. up to Wisconsin Ave. “Now it makes no sense for a public street to be sitting there,” he says. “To secure my property, I needed to block it off and put gates in. It’s good security all around.”

But closing a public street is a process with several government offices involved and eventually requiring approval of the City Council, which can be overwhelming for anyone inexperienced with the process.

Cooper started the process of hiring a firm to do survey work. But soon after, he got a visit from a representative of the Greater Memphis Chamber asking him to join. 

“I’d never been a part of the Chamber before,” Cooper says. “I was asking questions, including if they could help if I needed a street closed. She said that’s what they do.”

Cooper joined the Chamber and was soon in touch with Andre Dean, Vice President of Community Development. 

Dean told Cooper that the Chamber wants businesses to do what they do every day. If it’s not typical for a company to deal with government, the Chamber could help.

That service is part of the big picture for keeping Memphis economically vital. “With economic development, we try to get businesses to stay in or relocate to Memphis,” Dean says. “Community development has the responsibility for building the product of Memphis. When we make Memphis viable for new business development and growth, we can welcome prospects brought by the economic development team.”

Dean says his role is to make sure businesses reach the parts of government they need. Actually, the first thing to tackle was getting some overgrown brush removed between the property and the Interstate. The Chamber contacted the Tennessee Department of Transportation to get that taken care of.

But closing a street was going to take more than a phone call.

“In this case they wanted to close the short street where they’d acquired all of the land,” Dean says. “By closing it, they could limit it to their own access. They also keep a lot of containers there, so for safety and security, it made sense for them to have it closed.”

Closing a street involves the city’s engineering department and the office of planning and development. 

With the Chamber acting as a liaison between businesses and local/state/federal governments to get things done, the process was navigated with minimum fuss.

“We helped them through the process so they weren’t taken away from the work they have to do,” Dean says. That included assisting in getting engineering drawings done and ready to be approved. 

But there was a complication. 

One office told Cooper there needed to be a concrete apron that would separate the private drive from the road. But with planned construction on the nearby bridge going over I-55, the apron would have been torn up anyway. “The Chamber took the lead to get to the right person to get it waived,” Cooper says. “Now the Department of Transportation will put it down there after the Interstate work is done.”

Finally, the petition went before the City Council, which unanimously approved the street closing. And Cooper started construction on the gate to close off the drive. 

And that is how the Greater Memphis Chamber will work to let you do what you do best: run your business.

If you have questions about how the Greater Memphis Chamber can assist your business, please contact us at 901-543-3500.

Jon W. Sparks
Memphis Crossroads Magazine
Posted: 9/3/2014 4:06:02 PM | with 0 comments
Filed under: Community, Cooper, Crossroads, Development, Freight, Memphis

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (