The Traffic Club of Memphis hosted its monthly luncheon on Tuesday at The Racquet Club of Memphis, welcoming Andre B. Dean, the Greater Memphis Chamber’s vice president of public policy and community affairs, as the guest speaker. The club also held its annual board member elections, with incoming President Carey Treadwell of Dynamex Inc. taking the helm for the next year.
Dean gave an overview of the Greater Memphis Chamber and some of the activities with which it is involved on the local, state and federal levels.
“In the city of Memphis, transportation is such a huge part of our economic mix. Transportation jobs permeate our community more than we realize,” said Dean, who has more than 20 years of experience in the transportation and logistics industry.
Dean explained that the chamber is comprised of more than 2,300 businesses, and lately a heavier focus has been placed on retaining the area’s existing companies.
He urged club members to get involved in supporting transportation-related issues and not to remain quietly on the sidelines.
“Right now, there is big gap in funding for highway projects,” he said. “Funding is based on fuel tax, and automobiles are more efficient now. The miles driven are higher and the fuel purchases are lower, so we are not funding our road projects and our infrastructure at the right levels to continue to be competitive with other countries that are making huge investments in infrastructure.”
Dean said he feels the Memphis chamber and the local business community will be major players in the revamping of the highway trust fund. The chamber hosted seven members of Congress three months ago in an attempt to convince them of Memphis’ importance as a major piece in the national logistics puzzle.
Dean also spoke about the proposed multimodal, seismically sound bridge that would be built across the Mississippi River.
“Right now we are in the very early stages of getting this bridge built. It’s going to take a lot of funding and a lot of time,” said Dean, who asked club members to continue to push for new funding. “There’s a large piece of our economy directly tied to what can cross the bridge here in Memphis.”
He also cited the need to address dilapidated roads and bridges throughout the state and the nation.
“We need to get funding so we can start renovating, fixing and repairing. We’ve seen catastrophes with bridges collapsing in other states. Tennessee has done a very good job maintaining several of our roads and bridges, but we still have a lot of work to do,” Dean said.
Outgoing Traffic Club of Memphis President Mason Wilson reflected back on a successful 2013.
“It’s been a really good year and one of our busiest years in a long time. We hosted our Transportation Clubs International Conference in September, and it was our 100-year anniversary this year, so we had events and promotions in conjunction with that,” said Wilson, an attorney with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell and Berkowitz PC.
Thanks to a successful “100 for 100” membership drive, the club’s enrollment increased this year to around 140 members, its highest total in several years. Traffic Club also unveiled a new website in the summer to mark its centennial anniversary.
“We had a tremendous amount of new members join the club in 2013, and next year we hope to focus on engagement within the organization and with the community,” said Treadwell, who last year was the club’s vice president and the chairman of its conference planning committee. “We want to ensure that the events we have are timely, relevant, topical and beneficial to the greater Mid-South logistics community.”
Treadwell is a branch manager with Dynamex, North America’s largest same-day transportation company, and he has a background in international supply chain management. Other board members elected for next year include vice president Marty Morelli of Old Dominion Freight Line; and directors John Brewer of ACH Foods Co. Inc., Jim Deweese of ABF Freight System Inc., Chrissy Geibel of ReTrans Inc., Paul Parsels of Coyote Logistics, Bryant Richie of Marten Transport, and Trip Wiygul of Total Transportation of Mississippi LLC.
Next up, the club will hold its annual holiday fundraising luncheon to benefit Porter-Leath children’s home next month, and Treadwell will lead a Traffic Club board retreat in January.