Memphis, Tennessee (Friday, Jan. 19, 2024) — The Greater Memphis Chamber is one of nine organizations selected by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) to participate in a workforce development program focused on increasing credentialing for people impacted by the justice system.

As part of the ACCE Equitable Credential Attainment Cohort, the Chamber and its partners — the Shelby County Office of Re-Entry, TCAT-Memphis, and Southwest Tennessee Community College — will work to help Memphians convicted, incarcerated, detained, or otherwise affected by the justice system to earn industry-approved credentials that will qualify them for high-quality skilled careers. A sub-grant will help the cohort make Memphis a nationally recognized model for justice-impacted credentialing.

ACCE created the program to strengthen partnerships between chambers, community colleges, and community organizations to award more industry credentials or degrees to adults of color.

“Our goal is to make Greater Memphis a place where anyone can secure a high-quality job, lead a productive life, and provide for their family,” said Ted Townsend, President & CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber. “Memphis already has more jobs today than at any time before the pandemic and is one of the fastest-growing job markets in the nation thanks to our robust pipeline of economic development projects. This program will accelerate and amplify this region’s work to create more pathways to prosperity for all, and especially for people who are looking for a second chance.”

As demand for skilled workers has risen across the nation and around the world, the Chamber, ACCE, and other organizations have recognized the need for stronger partnerships to accelerate and scale skills training and credentialing for adults of color. In November 2023, the Chamber became the fiscal agent and administrator for the Greater Memphis Workforce Development Board, giving it oversight of federal workforce programs throughout the region, including American Job Centers. And in December, the Chamber announced plans for a 104,000-square-foot Prosper Memphis Accelerated Skills Training Center that will eventually train and award credentials to about 1,000 adults per year.

The ACCE Foundation and American Association of Community Colleges identified the cohorts from nine cities or regions. Each team comprise a chamber, a community college partner and an organization that directly represents the community. Lumina Foundation provided a grant to jumpstart the partnership.

The Memphis cohort will first identify the barriers to credential attainment and create quick-win solutions to address those challenges. They will join teams from eight other regions to gain access to national subject matter experts, receive customized technical assistance and engage in peer-to-peer learning activities to create a strategy for longer-term collaboration to build momentum after the grant period ends.

“We are grateful for Lumina Foundation’s continued support for the catalytic leadership chambers of commerce provide in the communities they serve,” said ACCE President & CEO Sheree Anne Kelly. “Strong cross-sector partnerships are crucial to addressing workforce challenges, building resilient local economies and creating opportunities for everyone to thrive.”

The other communities participating in the program include: Augusta, Georgia; Lafayette, Louisiana; Moore County, North Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Odessa, Texas; Sumter County, Georgia; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; York County, Pennsylvania.

About the Greater Memphis Chamber: The Greater Memphis Chamber is a nonprofit membership organization that is privately funded by the business community. As the “Voice for Business,” the Chamber serves as the region’s primary economic development and workforce development organization and an advocate for a pro-growth business environment. One of the region’s oldest institutions, dating back to 1838, the Chamber builds a greater and more prosperous Memphis for all by recruiting and retaining jobs, investment, and companies, developing the workforce, and supporting and advocating for a thriving business community. For more information about the Chamber, visit and Also, follow the Chamber on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram, and sign up for its weekly newsletter, the Memphis Fourword.

About the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives Foundation: Founded in 1971, the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) Foundation provides chamber executives with tools, research, leadership development, and knowledge to be players in shaping the futures of their communities. The Foundation serves ACCE’s 1,600+ business organizations and focuses on key areas where business involvement is well-positioned to create lasting impact. This includes education and talent development, economic and community development, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.