The Greater Memphis Chamber, along with the Memphis Business Community, announce their support of the Memphis Pre-K Initiative

Release date: 9/4/2013

The Greater Memphis Chamber and members of the Memphis business community together announced their support of the Memphis Pre-K Initiative in a press conference at the Chamber’s offices at 22 North Front Street on Wednesday, September 4th. 

The Memphis Pre-K Initiative, supported by a wide range of community-based organizations, churches and now the private sector, proposes a supplemental program that would provide high quality Pre-K education to more than 4,500 four-year olds currently left out of the system in Memphis. To pay for this program, the initiative proposes a one half percent sales tax increase that would also generate approximately $20 million to reduce property taxes by 20 cents annually. The sales tax proceeds would be placed into a Pre-K Trust Fund administered by a nine member semi-autonomous Pre-K Commission.

The business community was represented by Kathy Buckman Gibson who has been a very public supporter of Pre-K efforts in Memphis.  Standing beside her was Chamber President & CEO, John Moore and the Chamber’s Chairman of the Board, Larry Cox, along with other Memphis business leaders.

"In order for businesses to grow, it is essential for them to have access to a quality workforce," said Kathy Buckman Gibson, Chairman of the Board, Buckman. "Pre-K education is critical to developing the kind of workforce that will help our businesses be successful."

Research indicates that children who arrive prepared to learn in kindergarten perform better throughout school and complete more years of education.  A more educated workforce equals higher incomes, more revenue, less poverty and crime which leads to a thriving city that attracts business and jobs.

The number of business leaders in attendance at the press conference demonstrated the collaboration of the Memphis business community, led by the Greater Memphis Chamber.

“It is unprecedented for an issue to have such broad-based support from the private sector,” said John Moore, President and CEO, Greater Memphis Chamber. “Providing a quality education is not just a quality of life issue, it’s an economic development issue as well. The high-skilled jobs available in Memphis right now, and in the future, require a first-rate education and that starts with Pre-K.”

The Memphis City Council unanimously approved a ballot referendum, sponsored by City Council members Jim Strickland, Shea Flinn and Myron Lowery. A special election will be held this fall that will allow the citizens of Memphis to decide on the passage of the Pre-K program.

“A Pre-K program is absolutely essential for Memphis to remain competitive in recruiting people and businesses, so we ask that Memphians vote yes for the initiative this fall,” said John Moore.

To find out more information about the Memphis Pre-K Initiative, visit

For 175 years, the Greater Memphis Chamber has been the lead economic development organization for Memphis/Shelby County, and is a private, non-profit, membership-driven organization comprised of 2,300 business enterprises, civic organizations, educational institutions and individuals.