In the first wave of implementation, Metro Memphis will strengthen its workforce development system to prepare more workers for next economy jobs and leverage its world-class logistics hub to increase exports.   The next phase of initiatives will explore the establishment of an Innovation District tailored to next economy firms and workers, focus on biologistics to pursue development of higher-value supply chains and unite entrepreneurship programs to focus on regional strengths.

Lead Initiatives

Establish the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce

GMACW serves to catalyze a pipeline of skilled workers for the future by better aligning K12 and post-secondary programs with employer needs and each other, and to connect target sector employers to high quality workforce solutions that meet their needs today.

It has five major functions:

  • GENERATE BEST-IN-CLASS WORKFORCE TRENDS DATA:  Document, analyze and publish regular data on local hiring trends, employer skill requirements, and labor supply.  Be the “go to” source for this data.
  • STRENGTHEN EDUCATION ALIGNMENT TO PROMOTE PIPELINE OF SKILLED WORKERS FOR THE FUTURE. Document employment career pathways, especially in target sectors, and engage K12 and post-secondary institutions in aligning education programs to them while eliminating gaps, innovating new solutions, avoiding duplication and improving quality.
  • CREATE ENTHUSIASM FOR LOCAL CAREER OPPORTUNITIES AND PROVIDE BEST-IN-CLASS DIGITAL ROADMAP FOR ACCESSING THEM: Through interactive web site, social media, advertising, etc.
  • ADDRESS EMPLOYERS’ SHORT-TERM HIRING NEEDS: Connect employers in target sectors to high quality workforce solutions, addressing especially their short-term more immediate hiring and training needs. Create solutions where none exist.
  • LEVERAGE LOCAL PRIVATE DOLLARS TO BRING SIGNIFICANT EXTERNAL FUNDING IN SUPPORT OF MISSION: Spearhead local community effort to bring in more outside resources for workforce innovations; while ensuring GMACW operations are fully funded.

Improve Export Assistance and Adopt an International Business Plan

Regional manufacturers have an opportunity to increase output by maximizing their access to the existing global logistics infrastructure.  However, there are fewer public export assistance representatives here than competitor metros and national exporting centers.  An export assistance and marketing team will be formed followed by creation, then implementation of a Regional Export Plan. 

Additional Initiatives

Organize the Biologistics Execution Team

Memphis’ strong logistics capabilities should be tapped for shipping of high-value and time-to-market-critical medical products.  The first phase goal is to establish a go-to team dedicated to identifying and engaging potential biologistics customers, determining their space needs and other specific solutions while organizing development of facilities or programs to provide solutions.

Explore Creation of an Innovation District

Through the award of the Daniel Rose fellowship to Mayor A C Wharton Jr., a team is studying the area between Downtown and the Medical Center for potential development as a highly livable, walkable, adaptable, and sustainable urban research community.  Innovation districts spatially organize academic institutions, public resources and private companies in a connected, mixed-use setting instead of in isolated business parks or campuses.

Unite Innovation & Entrepreneurship Programs to Focus on Regional Strengths

The Greater Memphis Chamber, Memphis Bioworks Foundation, Start Co. and Emerge Memphis are creating the Memphis Entrepreneurship Powered Innovation Center (EPIcenter).  The goal is to create 1,000 entrepreneurs and 500 companies in 10 years.  This is an attempt to organize the many innovation & entrepreneurship players around sector specific activities.

These initiatives and others that will follow require a high level of commitment and alignment of vision, resources, talent, and infrastructure across the region.  They will require vigilance and dedication to stay the course toward this new vision for Metro Memphis and a new position in the global economy.