In 2013, Mayor A C Wharton made a bold commitment to reduce poverty in Memphis by 10% within 10 years – lowering it from 27% to 17%. We were hired to develop economic development strategies for the Mayor’s Blueprint for Prosperity. The strategies we recommended are based on the city’s assets and needs and are built around four main pillars:
• 2,600 jobs can be created through increased efficiency and access, combined with strategies to attract investment based on Memphis’s core assets, including its role as a major transportation and logistics hub. At least another 500 jobs will be created as an indirect result of these job creation strategies.
• An additional 2,600 jobs can be captured for Memphis residents by channeling regional growth into the city through improved land use planning, incentives, education, and pursuing cargo-oriented development.
• $1,500 savings per household can be generated by reducing household expenses for essentials, including water, energy, and transportation with efficiency improvements.
• For businesses and moderate- and high-income families, resource efficiency programs can create expense reductions, while a shared savings model can channel a portion of the financial benefits toward the poverty reduction goal, creating a Prosperity Fund that can grow to at least $2 million per year in 10 years.
• Transportation links for low-income households can provide access to jobs and significantly lower household expenses. Wage increases can then be used for household essentials or savings.
• A comprehensive anti-poverty strategy must fully prepare individuals and families to be able to take advantage of new job opportunities. It must also work with employers and in communities to ensure that poor residents are on a level playing field with the support services they need to succeed.