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VOL. 129 | NO. 133 | Thursday, July 10, 2014

Chamber Launches Young Professionals Group

By Andy Meek

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Before a concert gets underway, musicians will run through a soundcheck that serves as a kind of warm-up to the main event, during which participants can make suggestions for tweaks before the big show and can make sure that everything is done that needs to be.

It’s with that concept in mind that the Greater Memphis Chamber has launched a young professionals council it’s calling SoundCheck, through which business leaders and young professionals can have a seat at the table alongside the city’s business community. The idea is that young leaders from companies that range from archer-malmo to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to the city’s startup community will have more of a voice than ever before in key initiatives led by the chamber.

Young professionals “bring something that we need so much.”

– Phil Trenary
Greater Memphis Chamber president and CEO

SoundCheck will offer tiered membership levels, starting at free and ranging up to $250 a year for access to the Chairman’s Outer Circle team, which interacts with the chamber’s Chairman’s Circle – and it was formally unveiled this week with an event at Overton Square. After mingling and enjoying drinks, to the tunes of John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives, chamber president and CEO Phil Trenary called up the SoundCheck leadership to introduce themselves after telling them, “You bring something we need so much.”

That’s because, he went on, young professionals are the city’s “greatest asset,” and the chamber needs to help them form key business connections to foster collaboration in the business community.

“We created SoundCheck to make sure that these younger voices and viewpoints are included in meaningful, strategic work to improve our city’s economy,” said Kerry Hayes, SoundCheck chair and public relations director for doug carpenter & associates. “What we don’t need in Memphis is another networking thing. This is an opportunity for young professionals to assert themselves and helping create jobs in Memphis.”

The SoundCheck leadership, in addition to Hayes, includes vice chair Lisa Middlebrook, training & development coordinator for Electrolux Major Appliances. Also involved are Thomas Holmes, creative services director for WATN/WLMT/WJKT-TV; OCTI Training president Trey Carter; archer-malmo senior digital marketing specialist Penelope Fisher; Loeb Properties community relations director Elizabeth Berglund; and Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP CPA Jay Oliphant.

Rounding out the leadership group are MentorMe founder Brittany Fitzpatrick, Evolve Bank & Trust communications director Dan Springer, Coldwell Banker Collins-Maury director of corporate relocation and business development Angie Ware, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital senior representative of dream home development Brandy Sims.

Those leaders and other participants will also break into smaller teams – including the SoundCheck’s #MemUp Team, for example – to more specifically target the work they’d like to do. Other teams will be dedicated to things like professional development and growing the Memphis economy.

“Having an influential voice in current and future business initiatives will allow us to make Memphis a desirable place for young professionals,” Middlebrook said. “On a personal note, SoundCheck will allow me the opportunity to give back to the city that has given me so much as well as further develop my leadership skills.”

Holmes, who came to Memphis from Boston, said he’s excited to get involved with SoundCheck as a way to do even more in Memphis – where “I’ve already done more here in one year than in five years living in Boston.”

“What we don’t want is for young professionals to buckle down here and not enjoy the fruits of their labor,” he said.

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