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VOL. 129 | NO. 140 | Monday, July 21, 2014

I Choose Memphis: Hillary Quirk

Special to The Daily News

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“I Choose Memphis” spotlights Memphians who are passionate about calling this community home. New Memphis Institute provides the profiles.


Name: Hillary Quirk

Job title and company: Community Manager, Start Co.

Length of time living in Memphis: 5 years

Life history: I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and moved to Memphis to attend Rhodes College, where I studied international studies and political science. Memphis was supposed to be a temporary stepping stone, but the more I got to know it, the more I realized I couldn’t bring myself to leave! I was hooked and wanted to invest in the city I had come to love, so I joined the team at Start Co. – a globally recognized organization that builds startup founders for the digital economy in Memphis. I now consider myself a proud Memphian.

First memory of Memphis? Other than a brief tour of the Rhodes campus, I hadn’t seen the city itself until I arrived for my college orientation ... just in time for Elvis Week. Imagine my surprise upon seeing flocks of Elvis impersonators flooding the streets of my new city.

What is your favorite local festival? BBQ Fest. There is a reason people come from all over the world for this. From the multistory tents along the river to the slow-cooked pork, chicken, alligator and anything in between, it’s hard not to be impressed by BBQ Fest.

In your opinion, what can be done to move Memphis forward? I believe that entrepreneurship is the key to advancing our community. A lot of people don’t realize that all net new job growth in the U.S. in the past 30 years has come from young, high-growth startups (Kauffman Foundation). When startups decide to build their businesses in Memphis, they are laying the foundation for our future. Moreover, their entrepreneurial skill sets can be applied to a number of other areas in our community, whether that’s taking innovative approaches to social issues, attracting and retaining talent, and even making Memphis a more creative, vibrant city to live in.

What is your favorite outdoor activity? I love to run, and there is certainly no shortage of places to run in Memphis. Want trails? Run by the buffalo at Shelby Farms or find some hills at Shelby Forest. Prefer a path? The Greenline and Overton Park are awesome. Running by the river at sunset is also breathtaking (no pun intended). I’ve even had a jazz player play the “Rocky” theme song for me as I ran past him Downtown.

What do you like most about your job? I love being surrounded by smart people who are willing to go against the odds and work hard to do something incredible. We’ve had teams move to Memphis from as far away as Hungary, Singapore, Canada, California and New York City. They have given up everything to start their business. They certainly take Grit and Grind to a whole new level. That sort of dedication and optimism is contagious.

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