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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

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Memphis gains eye of minority-owned investment firm

Financial investment momentum is building in Memphis as more developers look to plant their flags in the Bluff City.

One minority-owned equity firm is joining the anticipated progression, with plans to invest hundreds of millions in the city they consider a “diamond in the rough.” 

FTP Investments, a Washington-DC-based firm, is looking to engage with local developers by providing capital to some of the city’s major projects. 

FTF collaborates with developers to provide funding for infrastructure components of their projects – plumbing, lighting, HVAC – things every project needs to operate effectively.

The firm and a partnering agency, ThinkBox Group, currently support large-scale projects across the country, including New York, Atlanta, Detroit, Washington, D.C., and other locations. 

But now their sights are set on Memphis. 

“We look at ourselves as a boutique firm, and so we asked where are the smaller cities that get looked over – that are gems? And we believe Memphis is a diamond in the rough city,” said Tarik A. Floyd, FTF’s CEO and principal. “Since coming to Memphis to learn more about the area and get a lay of the land, I’ve fallen in love.”

For some, the word developer holds a negative connotation filled with unwanted change and an image of avaricious businessmen and women who forgo community input. 

Floyd understands why some are reluctant to get excited about out-of-state developers or equity firms coming to the city. Still, he reassures that FTF has a different plan that keeps the community in mind.

“This isn’t a money grab for us,” he said. “We were intentional when we first began coming to Memphis. We sat down with local leaders and asked who the people are to talk to in the city who are doing intentional projects. Not just projects that could make money but also impact people who look like me or are less unfortunate in the city.” 

FTF and ThinkBox Group work to identify, develop, start, and finance sustainable projects that fix critical aging equipment in buildings, generate renewable power, upgrade operations and technology, and lower climate emissions.

Floyd’s commitment to reinvesting in local communities makes his firm stand apart.

“We want to get in with developers who are doing monumental projects in the city who are going to change the landscape in a positive way. That is the excitement behind what we’re hoping to do.”

While no contractual relationships have been solidified, FTF owners said they only engage with developers aligned with their mission and have a good reputation throughout the city. 

Development is a booming business in Memphis, and this boom is expected to increase with Ford’s $5.6 billion Blue Oval City project slated to bring 5,800 new jobs to the area. 

Jessica Balsam is an FTF Investments principal and a member of the board of advisors and the investment committee. (Courtesy photo) MEMBER, BOARD OF ADVISORS MEMBER, INVESTMENT COMMITTEE

“This is a nice marriage for what we do and what’s to come for the city,” Floyd’s partner and co-principal Jessica Balsam said.

“Memphis has been an over-looked city and what great timing to come in to provide capital for developers who are also looking to develop more energy-efficient projects.”

Ford plans to build a “revolutionary all-new electric truck” in the new Blue Oval facility about 40 miles east of Memphis in Haywood County near Stanton, Tennessee. 

Earlier this month, the manufacturing giant began constructing the electric-vehicle complex. This is the largest factory project in the automaker’s 119-year history.

“Projects of this magnitude make an enormous impact in these cities’… and we’re committed to bring much needed change to the economic and social landscape of urban communities,” Floyd said. “Memphis is where we want to be.”

For Floyd, investing in Memphis – a predominately Black city – is personal. The entrepreneur and investor founded FTF in 2019 to address a growing frustration expressed by clients and friends, who couldn’t find a trusted and relatable investment partner that they could grow with over time.

As the co-owner the minority-owned firm positioned to invest millions in businesses, Floyd said he knows firsthand why it’s crucial for Black people and people of color to have stake in the development decisions that affect their communities. 

“The structures and infrastructure of cities, governments and corporate institutions were built on the sweat and backs of African-American people,” he said. “Yet our communities and our people always bear the worst of the brunt of disinvestment and disenfranchisement. Now, there are African Americans blessed with the financial wherewithal to change some things with investment in major projects. So, why not?”

(Information about FTF Investments and their niche investment projects can be found on their website: https://www.ftfinvestment.com/.)

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