Graduates from the city’s Leadership Academy gathered Tuesday morning to brainstorm ideas on how to attract and retain young professionals.
The “Millennials’ Memphis” event was held at the Memphis Bioworks Foundation auditorium. After the brainstorming session, the ideas were presented to Memphis Mayor A C Wharton.
The 100 graduates, dubbed “Leadership Fellows,” broke into seven small groups to come up with answers for three questions: What values do you believe matter most in Memphis’ future? What can we promote about our city today to make it attractive to visitors and get them to come back? What do we need to revolutionize in order to be that city of choice in the future?
Groups determined economic development, empowerment, innovation, eco-friendliness, having a strong art community, and urban renewal as the values that mattered most for the city’s future.
Cost of living, cultural arts, and being a soulful city were among the ideas touted to make the city attractive to visitors.
Responses to how to revolutionize the city included partnering and investing, achieving positive promotion of Memphis, and progressively changing the current void in education and transportation.
“I wish I could say man, this really shocks me. All I can say is that this really affirms what you will see embodied in the priorities that we set out for our state and city,” Wharton said, after hearing the presentation.
He mentioned educational enlightenment, investing in the city, and sharing more of its history to visitors as significant things on his list to tackle.
Rod Moses, director of fellows for the Leadership Academy, said the event allowed leadership fellows “to share their perspectives, ideas and advice with the mayor” on how to move the city forward.
“For the mayor, it’s an opportunity to receive a perspective that comes from a generation where ideas are fresh,” Moses said at the event. “It helps to fulfill the vision that he has. He’s the type of person that leaves no stone unturned, so for him to hear from this young generation, it just helps to fulfill the vision that he has for Memphis to be a city of choice.”
Nancy Coffee, president and CEO of the Leadership Academy, said Memphis is the perfect city for a person who seeks to make a difference.
“One thing that is unique about Memphis is that we’re a city of great challenge, and we’re a city of great access,” Coffee said. “We have the challenges of poverty, of crime, and potentially an education system that is in reform. All of those become opportunities for people in this generation who truly have a heart for making a difference. This city, Memphis, is the city for all of us who want to serve, who want to make a difference, who want to not move but improve the city and where we’re going.”