Memphis economic development veteran Ted Thompson has been chosen to head a new economic development partnership between the University of Memphis and the Greater Memphis Chamber.
The collaboration will focus on growing Memphis’ economy.
Townsend will serve as the partnership’s full-time chief economic development officer.
“We believe that the alignment and strength this partnership creates will accelerate our efforts to attract and grow companies and to position Memphis for more high-quality job opportunities,” Townsend said.
Townsend has served as chief economic development and government relations officer for the University of Memphis since early 2018. Prior to joining the UofM, he was deputy commissioner and chief operating officer for the state of Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development.
He currently serves as chairman of the board for Life Science Tennessee, an organization dedicated to bringing more Life Science industry jobs to the state.
“Ted’s economic development experience working at the state level, combined with his expertise in navigating both the government relations and workforce aspects of economic development uniquely positions him for this opportunity,” said Beverly Robertson, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer.
“Most importantly, Ted is a Memphis guy. He has the best interests of this region at heart. He wants Memphis to win. I think that’s a pretty incredible combination.”
During Townsend’s tenure at the UofM, he helped establish a series of public-private partnerships and led the opening of the University of Memphis Research Foundation Research Park.
In addition to connecting companies with University resources, Townsend also worked to create more internship and employment opportunities for students.
Willie Gregory, the chamber’s board chairman and director of Global Impact for Nike, said, “We are more confident than ever that we are assembling the right team at the right time to help build a more prosperous economy for the Greater Memphis region.”
Townsend will lead an integrated chamber and university team that will strategically recruit businesses within targeted industry sectors. The team will promote Memphis’ expansive assets, including the highly-trained workforce prepared by both the University of Memphis and the broader set of regional education and training partners.
“An area of need for the Greater Memphis region has been strategic coordination of our efforts with the Tennessee legislature, along with recruitment and retention of business,” said U of M President M. David Rudd.
“This new collaborative fills that gap. There’s no one more qualified and capable to lead this effort than Ted Townsend. His local knowledge is unparalleled and coupled with deep connections across Tennessee. We’re confident this effort will help the positive trajectory of both the U of M and the region.”
Townsend is a graduate of the U of M with a degree in organizational leadership. His work with the chamber will begin immediately and he will transition to full-time employment with the Greater Memphis Chamber by 2022.