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From The Top: 2015 Chamber Objectives Take on New Vision



When I became President & CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, I cast a new vision for our organization: to break the cycle of poverty in Memphis. I know it sounds like a pretty arrogant statement. My own daughter called me out on it when she first heard it. But I believe it’s the responsibility of the business community to create the quality jobs needed to grow our middle class. The Chamber feels so strongly about this new vision that we made it part of our 2015 goals and objectives.

Maybe you caught the astounding statistic David Waters captured in his column from yesterday’s paper (3/10): “Local businesses owned by African Americans, Hispanics and other national racial minorities account for 1 percent of all gross business revenues in the Memphis area, according to Census figures.” Like David, we agree that this is a huge problem, and it’s going to take aggressive action to make this city more economically inclusive. 

If we, representing the Memphis business community, don’t do something, who will?

That’s why we’ve made it a priority to reduce the rate of unemployed African Americans by 10 percent in 2015. Currently, the unemployment rate for African Americans in Shelby County sits at 15.6 percent. It jumped 5.2 percent in 2009 and has not seen a full recovery since the recession ended in 2011. Through various initiatives and partnerships - such as the creation of 3,000 skilled manufacturing and logistics workers through the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce - we will work to see that percentage drop in the near future.

Another key objective for 2015 complements this effort as we work to increase the number of middle class jobs by 10 percent and implement important economic development strategies. As the United States - and Memphis - continues to experience the benefits of reshoring manufacturing companies (as Ted Evanoff wrote about in Saturday’s article - 3/7), the Chamber will continue to pursue these opportunities with a specific focus on China, as its many companies begin to realize the benefits of producing their products in the States.

The Chamber also plans to extensively market Memphis’ water resources in the following year. This represents one of our strongest competitive advantages. Memphis sits on a 2,000-year-old aquifer that holds an 800-year supply of water – that’s enough to sustain Niagara Falls for four years. As the war for jobs continues, the quantity and purity of our water provides a refreshing, cost-saving attraction in the economic development game. 


Every day we have the privilege to witness and contribute to the transformational change in our city. But we won’t stop working until every citizen of Memphis has the opportunity to benefit from the growth and prosperity we know we will achieve.

-Phil Trenary
President & CEO
Greater Memphis Chamber
Posted: 3/11/2015 4:07:16 PM | with 0 comments
Filed under: &, CEO, Chamber, From, Objectives, Phil, Poverty, President, Rates, The, Top, Trenary, Unemployment




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