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Rieger Joins Memphis Ranks for the War for Jobs

The following is a feature from an issue of Memphis Crossroads digital magazine. Click here to view the original article or the full magazine.

All the right decisions were being made, and Tom Rieger wanted to be a part of it. And so he packed his bags and moved to Memphis, a place he believes is on the threshold of being “one of the greatest cities on Earth.”

That’s a big statement, but Rieger believes in Memphis. He should be in a position to properly evaluate a city’s possibilities - he spent the last 15 years providing strategic planning, fundraising and business consulting in cities all over the country. Now he’s the new senior vice president of membership at the Greater Memphis Chamber. His job in a nutshell, he says, is “to unify the business community so we can win the jobs war…. The communities that have this right,” he said of strategies like Memphis can employ, “are killing it.”

Working from his native Denver, Colorado as president of his own company, Rieger, 45, has evaluated the role of chambers of commerce all over the country, determining issues the organizations need to address and fundraising for strategies to make changes. He began forming relationships in Memphis a few years ago. A weakness he found here was the Chamber’s heavy reliance on government funding. It handicapped the Chamber’s ability to come out on issues unfavorable to government powers. The solution was to end the dependence on government money and get business leaders behind the Chamber to become an influential organization again.

Rieger was helpful in the development of the Chairman’s Circle, a group of more than 100 CEOs who collaborate their time, money and skills with organizations in the region to make Memphis a world-class city. Rieger wasn’t serving as a consultant in Memphis anymore, but he knew the Chairman’s Circle was making strategic moves, “all the right decisions,” he said, and “I wanted to be a part.”

And then the Chamber asked Rieger to join the team permanently. The timing was right. With the arrival of a new daughter, Rieger was ready to curtail his travel schedule. He packed up his home in suburban Denver and moved to Memphis.

“Tom has a really long career working with various chambers across the country,” said Leigh Shockey, CEO of Drexel Chemical who serves as Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors. “He brought a lot of insight to the Chamber. He brought us another perspective.”
Signing on to a permanent role, Rieger also brought a passion for Memphis and for the work ahead. “He is just full of life,” Shockey said. “That’s one of the things we loved about him, is his enthusiasm and optimism.”

“Tom has shown tremendous leadership in his work with us here at the Chamber and we are fortunate to have him on board full-time,” said Phil Trenary, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “His commitment to Memphis demonstrates his passion for helping our business grow as well as providing the best service and benefits for our members.”

About 2,200 businesses are members of the Chamber. Rieger’s role will include improving member benefits, such as the Affinity Program which provides discounts to products and services exclusively to Chamber members. He will guide his team, which he calls the BRAVO Team, to engage with members, find out what challenges they’re facing and provide these companies with solutions.  Rieger wants members to be more than “just a name on a list.” As a unified organization, the Chamber and its members can have influence, influence that will solve problems, he said. 

Rieger will also oversee major fundraising activities, conduct successful membership drive campaigns and implement revenue enhancement opportunities. Small businesses make up 80 percent of the Chamber’s membership, and Rieger is already working to enhance the Small Business Council’s participation and resources. 

 “Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and we want to do everything we can to help them grow and develop into successful businesses,” said Rieger. “By engaging with us, our small business members gain exposure for their company and access to the resources and mentorship that help them with business development.” 

In addition to engaging with our small business members, Rieger will work to broaden outreach with the Chamber’s Board of Advisor and Board of Governors members. Members at these levels will fill strategic leadership positions in the Chamber, specifically on the small business and industry councils, as well as enjoy exclusive high level networking opportunities. 

“Now is the time to join or get more involved with the Chamber,” said Rieger. “We have a saying at the Chamber that ‘Investment + Engagement=Opportunity.’  There are more opportunities than ever before for Chamber members. Together, we can make more of a difference for our city and for your business than alone.” 

Story by: Toni Lepeska
Photo by: Troy Glasgow

Posted: 8/4/2015 7:30:00 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: Benefits, Business, Front, Lines, Member, Membership, Rieger, Small, SVP, Tom

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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 (