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Stockholm and Memphis: Connected On A Global Level

Every year, Memphis celebrates Memphis in May, a month-long international festival that includes the Beale Street Music Festival, an international BBQ contest and ends with the Sunset Symphony by the Mississippi River.  In addition to all the tourists’ activities, a different country is selected to celebrate.  In 2013, Sweden was chosen and activities and events explored Swedish culture and business practices.  Fredrik Sand, Senior Policy Adviser with Stockholm’s Chamber of Commerce, visited Memphis and shared with us about his experience.

Why were you in Memphis?
After a long and cold winter here in Stockholm, the invitation to visit Memphis in early May was of course irresistible. My generous and welcoming hosts, Memphis in May and the Greater Memphis Chamber, invited me to give a presentation on "Doing Business in Sweden" and to learn more about Memphis and Shelby County during the International week of the Memphis in May festival.

I had the opportunity to meet a delegation from Memphis in Stockholm earlier this year. It was very interesting to compare notes and learn more about Memphis, a city which is in comparable size to Stockholm (Stockholm is a bit larger with a population of 881,000, the metropolitan area is about 1.3 million for both cities).

If you could sum up Memphis in three words, what would they be?
In three letters it would be BBQ, which everybody kept talking about. In three words logistics, involvement and music. I do not know if they are linked, but the words represent some of the things that stayed with me after I returned home. On Spotify (Stockholm-based Internet music service) there has been a lot of Stax lately.

What was your experience like of the business community here?
Although I never thought that sewer issues would have such a prominent role in discussions, I found that many issues were similar to discussions in the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce. What is going on in city politics? Taxation and regulatory issues, challenges for smaller businesses. I also got the feeling that the contribution of many business men and women to the Chamber was only one part of engagement in society. This is a growing discussion in Sweden, and certainly one where we can learn a lot.

At the Doing Business in Sweden presentation I was surprised to meet people from experiences from Sweden and with Swedish companies: an office outside Stockholm, someone’s company had been bought by a Swedish company and so on. I should not have been surprised – as the new Electrolux site and FedEx hub illustrated – Stockholm and Memphis are connected at the global level.

What was your favorite experience here in Memphis?
The FedEx hub was a fascinating visit, if not the most fascinating business operation I have ever seen. Going out to the airport around midnight, a very busy airport with planes coming in under the night sky. The operations in themselves were very impressive and interesting. The lingering impression was, however, that I had felt the pulse of world communications. While many of our interactions now flow through the internet, here they are followed by flowers, pieces of equipment and whatever one could imagine in a very physical network. New words like biologistics opened my mind to new possibilities made possible.

Who sends what to whom? How are the streams of packets changing over time? The FedEx operation was a striking image of globalization of businesses and communications.

What do you think of the Greater Memphis Chamber?
The range of activities the Greater Memphis Chamber is involved in impressed me. My Chamber does not take on the kind of practical work GMC does on behalf of the city of Memphis (recruiting business), but I can see some real benefits of this arrangement. In promoting Memphis as a communications hub and attracting new sites, the interface with various governments functions must be strong and efficient. The involvement with entities such as Memphis Bioworks also showed good examples on making a difference for the business and science community.

Anything you want to add?
Apart from the business related program, it was a true pleasure to be a guest at the various Memphis in May events. The organizers had found great representatives on food, music and more. Whichever the 38th country to be honored by Memphis in May will be – they should count themselves lucky. 

Posted: 6/24/2013 8:08:53 AM | with 0 comments
Filed under: business, chamber, festival, global, international, may, memphis, stockholm, sweden, tourism, trade, visit

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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 (