Emerging themes have led to seven guiding strategies. These strategies provide a basis for development of tactical initiatives that are being considered.
Metro Memphis has considerable assets from which to build. The region, however, trails the nation in most economic performance measures and is struggling to recover from the recession. Metro Memphis must adapt, work together, and focus efforts to become competitive in the new global economy.
Transportation, distribution and logistics is the region’s most dominant cluster. Metro Memphis must diversify its economy by leveraging the cluster’s assets to support manufacturers and services. This will increase wages and create stability that doesn’t exist in a market with only one dominant industry.
Metro Memphis has seen rapid expansion in exports and export related jobs. However, the region retains potential for additional growth. Existing manufacturers must be introduced to foreign markets to build sales and in turn, employment.
Persistently low levels of educational attainment pose the most formidable barrier to Metro Memphis’ ability to grow and diversify. This reality prevents businesses from expanding and traps workers in low-wage, low-skill positions. An industry-driven workforce development program is required begin the transformation of Metro Memphis’ economy.
Additionally, Metro Memphis must better coordinate its efforts to nurture innovation and support entrepreneurs. The region must also reverse the ever outwardly expanding development pattern that hinders access to opportunity, increases the tax burden and makes the entire metro area less desirable to investors.
To begin addressing these concerns, the Memphis & Shelby County Regional Economic Development Plan calls for the establishment of the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce, improved export assistance for local companies, organization of a biologistics execution team, and exploration of a possible innovation district.