The Greater Memphis Chamber reports that it has 29 potential new employers in its "pipeline," which represents the possibility of 4,335 new jobs and $1.6 billion in capital investment.
While only about a quarter of the prospects will come to fruition, the chamber has to keep the pipeline full to consistently recruit new jobs to Memphis, president John Moore told The Commercial Appeal Wednesday.
The city had one of its greatest years in a long time for job creation last year, he said in a meeting with the newspaper’s editorial board.
In 2011, the chamber helped recruit 3,709 new jobs and retain 4,543 existing jobs. Moore defined "retained jobs” as those companies has threatened to eliminate.
New capital investment in 2011 totaled almost $1.2 billion, he said.
Over the next five years, the chamber will focus on expanding the number of business leaders who can influence the city’s direction, Moore said.
Memphis’ biggest challenge to quality job creation is developing the workforce skilled in the trades and technology, Moore said.
Mark Herbison, the chamber’s senior vice president for economic development, said that a generation ago local public schools had more about 25,000 students in vocational-technical training, and now there are fewer than 5,000.
Memphis business leaders must do a better job of communicating to students — beginning as early as the eighth grade — about the good jobs that will be available to them if they acquire the trade skills, Moore said.