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Posted on: Monday - Aug 8, 2016

2016 has been a great year for the Greater Memphis region. In May, Evergreen Packaging announced plans to locate its global headquarters in Memphis. With this announcement, Evergreen Packaging will invest $915,000 and create 70 new jobs in Shelby County. This was a big win for the Greater Memphis region as the announcement solidifies that Memphis and Shelby County create a business-friendly environment for companies to grow and succeed. It is also shows that West Tennessee is a great place to live, work and raise a family.

Another great win for the Greater Memphis area happened in June when ServiceMaster announced plans to relocate its headquarters to downtown Memphis. The leading home and commercial service provider selected the former Peabody Place for its new headquarters. Both of these announcements were a big part of the city’s ongoing downtown revitalization efforts.

In addition to these company announcements, there has also been a lot of buzz around the medical device industry in the Greater Memphis region. Shelby County is the nation’s second largest market for orthopedic device manufacturing, boasting almost 50 companies including Smith + Nephew, Medtronic, Wright Medical and MicroPort Orthopedics. As the largest export product in Tennessee, the Greater Memphis medical device industry generates a local economic impact of more than $2.6 billion annually.

Employment in the local medical device industry has grown by more than 50 percent since 1999, with an average wage of more than $88,000 for manufacturing jobs. In Shelby County, this sector has generated more than 6,000 direct jobs and 10,000 indirect jobs, making it a key driver of the local economy.  As existing companies expand and new manufacturers locate in the area, the demand for skilled workers is heating up.

In response, 27 area biomedical companies came together and formed the Greater Memphis Medical Device Council (GMMDC).  Officially launched in 2014 and led by a Board of Directors comprised of seven of the founding members, the GMMDC is a collaborative effort to develop a world class, comprehensive workforce to serve the Memphis life sciences industries. Partnering with area education providers such as TCAT, Southwest Tennessee Community College, Moore Tech and several K-12 school systems, the team is developing programs for machining, metal finishing, quality, and packaging.

The GMMDC works with education providers to leverage existing entry-level skills programs such as National Career Readiness Certificates and NIMS certifications. For more advanced skills development, the companies are developing U.S. Department of Labor registered apprenticeship programs for machining and metal finishing. In the next several years, the GMMDC intends to become an independent, self-sustaining training center providing a reliable pipeline of highly skilled workers. 

The GMMDC is a groundbreaking public/private partnership committed to growing one of the area’s highest impact industries. Supported by leading economic development partners such as the Bartlett Area Chamber, city of Bartlett, Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce and the Economic Development Growth Engine for Memphis and Shelby County, the organization is a leading example of workforce development driven by industry, for industry.

TNECD is proud to partner with the GMMDC to create a 21st century workforce to meet the demands of the life sciences industry. We look forward to building upon the momentum we’ve created so far this year and are eager to see what’s in store for the remainder of 2016.

Gwyn Fisher leads TNECD’s efforts in the Greater Memphis region. Along with Business Development Consultants Ordis Copeland and Justin Jamerson, she works to attract new corporate investment and facilitate expansions with existing Tennessee companies in four counties. Gwyn is a recipient of the 2010 Memphis Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” award and has also been recognized as one of Memphis’ “Power Players” by Memphis Business Quarterly. She received a Bachelor of Arts in French from Scripps College and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Memphis. She has published in legal journals and is currently a contributing author for Smart City Memphis.