To ensure that the Memphis Chamber has appropriate resources to serve as the lead economic development agency for the greater Memphis area
The Chamber was founded by Memphis businessmen Nathaniel Anderson and Louis Trezevant in 1838, a time when it might have been difficult for some to imagine that the city would one day become a destination for international business and travel. But Memphis' strategic location on a high bluff overlooking the Mississippi River ensured its future as a commercial center.
The Chamber's founders knew Memphis had great potential, and took it upon themselves to see that businesses worked together to advance the city. In 1921, The Chamber launched its first effort to recruit businesses to the city by adopting the Wonder City of the South motto. Whistle-stop goodwill tours eventually led to the relocation of the Continental Can Company in 1933, as well as the opening a few years later of Memphis operations for giants such as Armour and Co. and Firestone.
In 1941, the first full-page ads selling Memphis to the nation ran in the New York Times. In 1959, The Chamber threw a party to celebrate the arrival of the city's 500,000th resident. By 1963, the city's first international trade missions were under way, and five years later, The Chamber launched a $4 million Greater Memphis Program to expand its activities across the full spectrum of community life. In 1974, The Chamber created The Downtown Council, and launched a long-range program to revitalize downtown Memphis and the riverfront.
Over the last two decades, The Chamber hasn't slowed down in its efforts to help Memphis and its businesses capitalize on the advantages of doing business in the Mid-South region. In 1982, The Chamber launched what has become an award winning international campaign to spread the message about Memphis' strong infrastructure. Adopting the America's Distribution Center tag line, The Chamber led other local organizations in the drive to tell Memphis' story to the world.
By 1985, the campaign was beginning to show undeniable, tangible results. Between 1985 and 1994, per capita income rose by 75% and retail sales grew by 70%. Since 1985, more than 125,000 new jobs have been created. Hometown companies have been joined by Brother Industries, Sharp Manufacturing, International Paper, Ingram Micro, The Disney Co., Gibson Guitar and many others.
The Chamber's campaign to market Memphis took on a new dimension in 1995 with the successful launch of the first non-stop flight from Memphis to Amsterdam via Northwest/KLM. The international marketing slogan Memphis: New Gateway to the World was coined to help spread the news across the United States and Europe.
Located in the historic Falls Building in downtown Memphis, The Chamber's staff, including strategic partners from Memphis Light Gas and Water and Southwest Tennessee Community College, serves more than 2,600 member businesses with a variety of programs, services and initiatives that address every aspect of modern business recruitment, retention and development.