The U.S. Chamber Highlights Memphis, Tennessee’s Economic Growth in ‘Enterprising Cities’ Report

Release date: 9/25/2013

Memphis, Tenn.—The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation recognized Memphis, Tenn. as a model for government focused on job creation, economic growth and crime reduction in its report, Enterprising Cities, released on Thursday.

“Enterprise-friendly leadership and policies at the city level can facilitate local economic growth by supporting entrepreneurs and mobilizing effective partnerships for improving the conditions for business and job growth,” said Al Martinez-Fonts, executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

The Enterprising Cities report emphasized the “clean it, activate it, sustain it” strategy developed by Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, Jr.’s Innovation Delivery Team. A neighborhood-level approach to increasing business activity, supporting redevelopment and fostering economic vitality, this strategy is laying the foundation for future success.

“For years, we have invested heavily in infrastructure and growing the city geographically as a way to position ourselves for economic growth.  Today, we are testing small-scale, low-cost projects that can help us capitalize on these investments and aggregate big change in our city.   It’s clear that City government can’t do this alone, and we are fortunate to have talented and willing partners in the community, like the Greater Memphis Chamber, to join with us in delivering these strategies,” said Mayor Wharton.

Executed in partnership with internal stakeholders, including the Divisions of Public Works, Planning and Development, and Housing and Community Development, the strategy was recognized for its reorientation from day-to-day maintenance to true innovation and implementation, by connecting branches of local government, enhancing communication and shifting the focus to ground-breaking processes.

“The willingness of our city and community leaders to partner in new ways and try new things at the neighborhood scale is inspiring.  In addition to demonstrating the art of the possible for our neighborhoods, these strategies help to unlock the energy and creativity of the folks who are working every day to make our city great,” said Doug McGowen, Director of the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team.

The report also highlighted the government’s ability to work with both the public and private sector, including the Greater Memphis Chamber, which has been involved in an array of initiatives to improve the retail business climate in South Memphis. The Binghampton Development Corporation and Broad Avenue Business Association were instrumental in the successful launch of the MEMShop Retail Incubator and Night Market on Broad Avenue; and Crosstown Arts and the University Neighborhood District Council were catalysts for successful launches of MEMFix Cleveland and MEMFix Highland/Walker respectively. 

“Public and private partnerships are crucial for revitalizing core areas in Memphis,” said John Moore, President and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “Growth in the core of Memphis builds our tax base, helps us recruit and retain talent and helps provides a great livability for everyone.”

The Enterprising Cities report highlights six other cities—Dayton, Ohio; Irving, Texas; Minneapolis, Minn.; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; and Sioux Falls, S.D.—and is available at

About the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team

Charged with developing and delivering innovative solutions to reducing youth gun violence and generating neighborhood economic vitality, Mayor Wharton’s Innovation Delivery Team brings rigorous focus and best-in-class practice to identifying powerful solutions, developing implementation plans and managing for results. Part of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Project, Memphis is one of five cities to receive an Innovation Delivery Team grant.

About the Greater Memphis Chamber

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.