MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Sept. 30, 2021) – The Greater Memphis Chamber today launched the Center for Economic Competitiveness, a new initiative aimed at bringing its vision of “prosperity for all” to life. 

Coming on the heels of Ford Motor Company committing to a $5.9 billion electric vehicle and battery campus just north of Memphis, the creation of the Center for Economic Competitiveness (CFEC) continues the Chamber’s dramatic shift toward a more data-driven approach to economic development. The Center will focus on leveraging data to align regional partners around key initiatives to make the region more competitive for transformational projects like Ford’s Blue Oval City. 

One of the Center’s first public-facing initiatives is the People Powered Prosperity Benchmark, which was created in partnership with The Brookings Institution, Innovate Memphis, and BLDG Memphis. The Benchmark measures the performance of Greater Memphis against nine peer regions in 40 indicators across eight categories, as outlined in MemMeasures, a report released by CFEC today in conjunction with its launch. The Benchmark will pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of the region relative to its peers, allowing the CFEC to rally community stakeholders to solve the issues holding back our region’s growth and helping the Chamber shape its economic development strategy around our strengths. 

Peers selected for the Benchmark are Birmingham, Ala; Indianapolis, Ind.; Kansas City, Kan.; Louisville, Ky.; Milwaukee, Wis.; Nashville, Tenn.; New Orleans, La.; Oklahoma City, Okla.; and St. Louis, Mo. 

“This is Memphis vs. Errrybody,” said Ted Townsend, the Chamber’s chief economic development officer. “At the end of the day, we want to be able to say ‘Scoreboard’ to our competitors. To do that, we have to keep score, and that’s the mission of the Center for Economic Competitiveness. We must know the strengths and weaknesses of ourselves and our competitors if we’re going to continue to land life-changing projects like Ford Motor Company, which this week announced the single largest investment in Tennessee history. This is how we make ‘prosperity for all’ a reality.” 

The Center is being led by executive director, Apryl Childs-Potter, who will serve in the role in addition to remaining as the chief marketing officer of the Chamber. Childs-Potter said her father got a job at a factory in Mississippi the day she was born and it changed the course of her life. 

“My dad went from dropping out of high school to managing a maintenance team across two U.S. factories all because he had access to a quality job,” Childs-Potter said. “I personally know how transformative good jobs can be, and that’s why the work of the Center for Economic Competitiveness is so crucial. We change lives by following the data.” 

Of the 40 indicators tracked by the People Powered Prosperity Benchmark, Memphis is currently No. 1 compared to its peers in just one area: diverse tech talent. Black and Hispanic people make up 27.3% of the region’s information technology jobs, which is a higher percentage than any of its peer regions. The Chamber is already planning to incorporate this data into a new business recruitment campaign. 

”The Greater Memphis Chamber is laser-focused on driving prosperity for all,” said Beverly Robertson, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “To do so, we must use data generated by the Center for Economic Competitiveness to understand where we are today, where we need to go, and coalesce individuals and community partners to help shape solutions to long-standing problems.” 

Media inquiries: Email Ryan Poe, director of communications for the Greater Memphis Chamber.

About the Greater Memphis Chamber: The Greater Memphis Chamber is a private, member-driven nonprofit that acts as the lead economic development organization for Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee. As the “Voice of Business,” the Chamber works to attract and retain jobs and investment, advocates for policies creating prosperity for all, and provides resources, information and programming to help its members thrive. Founded in 1838, the Chamber is one of Memphis’ oldest institutions with roughly 1,500 members today, including many of the region’s largest employers.