MEMPHIS, Tenn. — How does the Memphis economy measure up against other cities its size? A new research center is keeping score, and finding areas for improvement.
The Greater Memphis Chamber on Thursday launched the Center for Economic Competitiveness, which will collect data to align partners and initiatives that can make the Memphis region more competitive.
One of the first key measures is the People Powered Prosperity Benchmark, which measures Memphis against nine peer regions using 40 separate indicators. The findings are compiled in a new report called MemMeasures.
Peers cities in the study are Birmingham; Indianapolis; Kansas City, Kan.; Louisville; Milwaukee; Nashville; New Orleans; Oklahoma City; and St. Louis.
Memphis is currently No. 1 compared to its peers in one area: diverse tech talent. Black and Hispanic people make up 27.3% of the region’s information technology jobs. Memphis also scores well in the growth of STEM graduates, although it is dead last for food insecurity, with 18.5% of residents reporting food insecurity.
“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.”
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.
The center’s report comes on the heels of a major economic development announcement for the region: Ford Motor Company will invest $5.6 billion and employ nearly 6,000 at an electric vehicle and battery manufacturing site about 30 miles outside Memphis.
”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.”