VOL. 129 | NO. 242 | Friday, December 12, 2014
Chamber Wants to Clean Up Memphis
By Amos Maki
If Greater Memphis Chamber officials get their wish, Memphis will be the nation’s cleanest city by 2019.
The chamber will spearhead a four-year effort to help clean up the litter and waste found in so many corners of the Bluff City, an ambitious new “moon mission” for the economic and community development organization.
“Memphis is our home, and how our home looks is a direct reflection of how we look at ourselves and how others look at us,” Spence Wilson Jr. of Kemmons Wilson Cos. announced to a crowd of around 1,000 civic and business leaders gathered for the chamber’s annual chairman’s luncheon Wednesday, Dec. 10.
Wilson said the chamber would work with local stakeholders – from businesses and neighborhood organizations to groups like the Memphis City Beautiful Commission and Clean Memphis – to clean up the trash and blight.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the “City of Good Abode” was recognized as one of the country’s cleanest cities but has gained a reputation in recent years as one of the nation’s dirtiest municipalities.
In addition to the citywide clean-up effort, chamber officials announced that local entrepreneurship and early childhood education efforts will get a boost next year, thanks to the organization and its partners.
The chamber’s Memphis Entrepreneurship Powered Innovation Center, which aims to create 1,000 entrepreneurs over a 10-year period in the fields of logistics and emerging technologies, health care and bioscience, and information and software technology, will receive $750,000 from FedEx over three years to help fund a center of excellence in logistics.
The chamber also announced that Shelby and Davidson counties will split $70 million in federal funds over four years for early childhood education. Around $35 million will flow into schools in Shelby County for everything from additional classrooms to wellness screenings for kids.
The grant funds come after a chamber-supported initiative to raise the sales tax to pay for greater early childhood education was shot down by voters.
“Failure is not an option when it comes to providing a quality education for our children,” said Carolyn Hardy, a member of the chamber’s Chairman’s Circle, a group of more than 100 business leaders who have committed to pursuing aggressive goals, or “moon missions,” in the Memphis area.