VOL. 124 | NO. 63 | Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Lots of Work Awaits New Airport Area Leader
By Eric Smith
The Memphis Airport Area Development Corp. has a new pilot at the helm.
Fred Jackson, a Memphis native and retired U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officer, recently took over as executive director of the organization. And though Jackson is three months into his new post, he has spent that time getting his feet wet with the priorities and objectives of MAADC, www.maadc.com, a private nonprofit group dedicated to improving neighborhoods surrounding the airport.
Jackson replaces the organization’s first executive director, John Lawrence, who resigned in October after about a year on the job.
The area within MAADC’s purview is an important one for the city. As the front yard of sorts for Memphis International Airport, it stretches from Interstate 240 in the north to East Shelby Drive in the south, from rail tracks in the west to airport runways in the east.
The area is a key component of the city’s aerotropolis, an “airport city” concept in which the airport serves as an economic engine driving commerce for the entire region.
Now, Jackson hopes to engage property and company owners in the fight to remove blight along corridors such as Brooks Road, while helping area businesses – especially those in the logistics, distribution and transportation industries – find new ways to prosper.
“We need their involvement to make this thing happen,” said Jackson, whose office is in the management building of Nonconnah Corporate Center. “We also need a continued Memphis Police Department involvement to reduce crime in the area. And in turn hopefully that will increase business growth in the MAADC area.”
Getting a handle on things
MAADC president Jo Ann Ferreira is a managing director of hub-area business development at FedEx. She works with customers who are considering new business operations near FedEx air and ground hubs – locations that can give shippers or other distributers an advantage because of the company’s late dropoff times.
For Ferreira, who recruits executives from around the country, the improvement of areas around the airport is essential. She said she believes Jackson, especially with his engineering and military experience, is the right person to make that happen.
“There’s a discipline that engineers have that you just see in general,” Ferreira said. “They’re highly organized, they’re very disciplined, and we felt we’d also get that from the military background as well. So we’d have someone to be systematic, a good planner. His background in the Corps of Engineers is highly related to anything that would be involved (with) construction or rebuilding or building or development.”
The MAADC’s long-term priority, in general, is to create a better environment for community and business owners in the area. The group has an impressive list of member organizations, all of whom are stakeholders in the airport area.
Founding member companies include Belz Enterprises, CB Richard Ellis, Elvis Presley Enterprises Inc., FedEx, First Tennessee Bank, Medtronic Inc., Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority, Memphis Area Transit Authority, the Greater Memphis Chamber, Nonconnah Corporate Center, Pinnacle Airlines Corp., Smith & Nephew and a group of auto, truck and truck engine companies.
The corporation’s board of directors includes top executives from those companies and others.
A handful of noteworthy improvements have been made or will be made along the Brooks Road corridor. MATA is building its $15 million South Intermodal Terminal near the airport. The association’s 29,000-square-foot facility will rise soon at 3033 Airways Blvd., at the intersection of Airways and Brooks Road.
Also, Diamond Cos. bought the former Chuck Hutton Toyota dealership at 1710 E. Brooks Road, at the corner of East Brooks and Millbranch roads. Diamond, whose truck dealership is next door, will double in size when it completes a renovation of the property.
Across Millbranch Road from Diamond, the Memphis Area Teachers Credit Union has a new branch going up. And across Brooks Road from Diamond, the local Peterbilt dealership has bought the old Black Tail Shake Joint strip club. Peterbilt plans to raze that building and expand its own business operation on the site.
Jackson is committed to fostering more success stories like these.
“This is a community effort, a business effort,” he said. “So cooperation from every business regardless of size of company, we need their interest and their support. That’s going to help us build a better team effort in this community with citizens and business owners to improve the entire area of the MAADC.”