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VOL. 128 | NO. 28 | Monday, February 11, 2013

Conference Brings Jobs Creation Into Focus

By Andy Meek

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Jim Clifton, CEO of the Gallup organization since 1998, believes the stakes are extraordinarily high in the global arms race for jobs.

He made the point in stark terms in a recent interview he gave to Forbes.

His organization – which provides research, analytics and advice to public- and private-sector entities around the world – has discovered this salient fact: having a “good job,” Clifton told Forbes, is now the “great global dream.”

To be more specific, he told Forbes Gallup has found by and large that having a good job is valued more highly than having a family and that it’s of a higher order of importance than even things like religion and world peace.

Be on the wrong side of the war for jobs, in other words, and a cascade of woes will follow that’s hard to stop.

Clifton, who’s also the author of the highly regarded book “The Coming Jobs War,” will be in Memphis later this month as one of the main speakers for a new conference. On Feb. 20 the Greater Memphis Chamber and Duncan-Williams Inc. are presenting the first annual “Job Fuel: 2013 Conference on Job Creation.”

“Without generating jobs ... economically the city’s going to suffer.”

–Duncan Williams
President, Duncan-Williams Inc.

The event’s subtitle is “What every leader must know about the future of job creation.” It will be held from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.

The event’s other speaker will be Dr. Gene Huang, vice president and chief economist at FedEx. Huang is recognized as one of the world’s leading business economists, and his resume includes stints as president of the National Association for Business Economics and a chairmanship of the Economic Advisory Committee of the Council on Competitiveness.

He also has been a member of groups including the Wall Street Journal Economists Panel, BusinessWeek Magazine’s Business Outlook Panel, and the ABC News Economists Panel.

In “The Coming Jobs War,” Clifton describes an all-out effort that’s needed among communities to compete in a global war for talent and jobs.

Ironically, even though the competition has such high stakes involved, Clifton writes that many leaders and communities are going about the pursuit all wrong, such as by tacitly accepting low-performing schools and by not doing more to foster entrepreneurship.

Duncan Williams, president of Duncan-Williams Inc., said he started talking to the chamber a few years ago about an interest in hosting a unique financial-themed event his firm wanted to sponsor. From there, it morphed into a focus on jobs.

“That’s because I think we all agree, in the financial world, that without generating jobs and having an economy and having cities generating jobs, that economically the city’s going to suffer,” Williams said. “So they kind of tie in. And I think right now, where Memphis is, we’ve really put our focus on the jobs side. To have Mr. Clifton here is a huge get for Memphis. His book is getting all kinds of play nationally, and I think anybody who reads it is moved by it.”

Greater Memphis Chamber president and CEO John Moore thinks highly enough of Clifton’s book that he made a few references to it during the chamber’s most recent annual chairman’s luncheon, in December. During the luncheon, Moore said the book underscores the notion that for the U.S. to retain its competitive edge, local community engagement is paramount – something Memphis has increasingly been moving into position to achieve.

To prove his point, after the luncheon Moore told The Daily News a dramatic fact about economic development in Memphis.

“I was told there are no other communities that have attracted as many advanced manufacturing wins as Memphis has in recent years,” he said. “And when you think about it, four of them involved foreign capital investment dollars coming in.”

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