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VOL. 129 | NO. 148 | Thursday, July 31, 2014

FedEx Founder Highlights Economic Club Fall Slate

By Andy Meek

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FedEx founder Fred Smith will make a rare public speaking appearance in Memphis Nov. 6, as part of the fall 2014 lineup of speakers planned for the Economic Club of Memphis.

The club has announced its fall lineup of speakers, which draws as usual from the ranks of newsmakers and influential figures in the worlds of finance and politics. Lined up to speak are U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., New York Stock Exchange governor Peter Costa and Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab.

The Corker event is coming up Aug. 13, and he’s scheduled to lead a “discussion on domestic and international Politics.”


“The board of the club is very focused on making sure we’ve got really high-caliber speakers, and I think our fall slate is an obvious outcome of that focus,” said the club’s executive director Laurie Tucker. “We start with someone like Sen. Corker. We’ll have a panel discussion for that one, where we’ll have some of our members engage with him. Then we’ll have Peter Costa, and of course everyone will be clamoring to hear Fred Smith, especially because he doesn’t speak publicly often anymore.”

Smith made an appearance at the club in 2007, giving an introduction for U.S. Sen. John McCain, at the time running for president.

Meanwhile, the club already is working on an equally strong spring program, and it’s also getting ready to launch a new website in coming days.

“We’ve also got new sponsors coming on board, this great slate of fall speakers and our new board members we’ve announced, so it’s definitely an exciting time,” Tucker said.

The club’s 2014-2015 board member slate includes Steve Bares, president and executive director of the Memphis Bioworks Foundation, as president. David Waddell, president and CEO of Waddell and Associates, is vice president, and SunTrust Bank managing director Mary Ann Hodges is secretary and treasurer.

Incoming board members include Ron Coleman, president of Competitive Cams Inc.; Jim Ethridge, CEO at Ethridge Enterprises; Bruce Hopkins, president at First Tennessee Bank; and Michelle Miller, vice president of strategic and financial planning at FedEx.

Tucker was tapped by the club’s board earlier this year to serve as its executive director. That came around the same time as the marketing veteran, who’d worked for 35 years at FedEx before taking a voluntary buyout, co-founded a strategy and marketing consultancy called Calade Partners with two other FedEx marketing veterans.

She told The Daily News at the time of taking the job with the economic club that part of her work will involve bringing in more sponsorships. Great cities, she added, have great economic clubs, and she also noted Memphis’ club includes a strong board and “high-energy group of leaders.”

The club was established in 1973. It’s made up of more than 200 members representing a cross-section of the Memphis business community, and the club meets seven to eight times a year for discussions of economic, political and social issues.

Tucker says she intends for the club to keep bringing in “intellectually stimulating speakers” as well as promoting conversations among members.

PROPERTY SALES 124 481 17,865
MORTGAGES 127 530 20,565
BUILDING PERMITS 195 891 36,836
BANKRUPTCIES 52 262 11,426