Memphis has changed the world… and we’re not done yet.
Innovators, groundbreakers, music-makers; and world-shakers come to Memphis to bring their ideas to life and make their mark. With a supportive and highly connected business network, a vibrant academic community and an affordable cost of living, Memphis has a can-do culture that embraces social, creative, philanthropic, and business entrepreneurs.
Memphis is a city unlike any other. It has city amenities and opportunity, but with a hometown feel, making it the perfect place for up-and-coming talent to find community, build a network, and get involved. With an easily accessible region and rich higher education institutions within Memphis proper, this city is bustling with eager students and thought leaders ready to contribute.
Like any other city, Memphis has policies and programs in place for entrepreneurs and achievers. Unlike any other city, Memphis is committed to seeing that success become a reality and constantly makes improvements to ensure a more opportunistic environment. Don’t believe us? Here’s the proof.
Young professionals see cities like Memphis as a great place to plug and play, and that’s why Forbes recently ranked Memphis at No. 4 on its “Happiest City to Work in Right Now” list. The millennial scene in Memphis is vibrant and fun, with organizations like Choose901, Undercurrent and New Memphis Institute that are committed to connecting people and building relationships.
Our Memphis workforce is young and growing—more than 1,700 millennials moved to the city in 2015, putting workers’ median age at just 35 years old. The Greater Memphis Chamber offers grants and incentives to find, hire and train local employees, while a strong educational community of colleges, universities and technical training schools provide quality opportunities for professional training and development in everything from service industries to tech.
Cost of business & living
Tennessee has no property tax or state income tax on wages and has the second-lowest local and state tax burden per capita. Additionally, Memphis’ economic development partners offer tax incentives to businesses relocating to or expanding in the region.
Aside from a business-friendly tax environment, the cost of living in Memphis is consistently at least 12% lower than the national average. This means that, in addition to your money going farther in Memphis, top talent can move here, make money, and still have the income to live the life they want. That’s why Realtor.com ranked Memphis third on their list of where millennials are most likely to buy homes.
Strong infrastructure is a vital component of business success, and Memphis is one of the nation’s premier supply chain hubs. Whether you require runways, railways, riverways or roadways, you’ll be able to make your mark in Memphis.
With giants like FedEx and AutoZone headquartered here and direct access to water, air, and rail, Memphis is widely known as a leader in global commerce and logistics. But what you may not know is that those Fortune 500 companies and other corporate giants in Memphis continue to give back and foster a highly networked B2B community of incubators, accelerators, and start-up support programs. Epicenter is the hub of the Greater Memphis entrepreneurship movement, Bioworks is the Mid-South’s go-to organization for creating companies, jobs, and investment in bioscience and sustainability, Leadership Memphis prepares and mobilizes leaders to work together – the list goes on and on for opportunity in Memphis. In fact, Inc. ranked Memphis at the top of their opportunity index for entrepreneurs in the Nov. 2017 print issue, and Blacktech Week ranked Memphis the best metropolitan area for black-owned companies in 2017.
Memphis is also an ideal place for creatives: local makers and artisans are supported by the “Made By” movement in Memphis; the local non-profit arts industry in Memphis drives $197.3 million in annual spending and supports the equivalent of more than 6,100 jobs; Memphis was designated as a ‘Maker City’ by Etsy; Creative Works, an annual conference held in Memphis, equips residents with skills needed to support a thriving creative economy. For individuals seeking a supportive, entrepreneurial environment, now is the time and Memphis is the place.
Memphis is in the middle of a small business movement. The city has opened itself up to independent business owners, creating an attractive destination for companies of all industries and size.
The city understands the importance of small business. It isn’t just massive corporations or companies that employ hundreds of people at a time. While businesses of all shapes and sizes are welcome in Memphis, the very lifeblood of a thriving metropolis is from the small businesses. The unique restaurants and boutiques represent the hard work and toil of individuals whose dream it is to run their very own business.
For anyone looking into possible landing spots for their own companies, whether developed or just in development, Memphis offers opportunities other cities cannot match.
Why spend when it isn’t necessary?
Opening a small business is expensive. From a stationery store to a bakery and everything else in between, starting a new business, regardless of how good the idea is, takes sizable capital. In larger cities, much of this early capital goes to rent. A small business opening up in one of the larger metro areas of the country, such as New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco, will spend the vast majority of its available finances on rent. Even then, the new business may dig its own grave by selecting a poor location in hopes of saving money.
In Memphis, this is not an issue. There are exceptional rental opportunities throughout the city for a fraction of the price. So whether foot traffic is critical or a larger manufacturing destination is desired, Memphis provides state-of-the-art services and infrastructure for a fraction of what is required in other cities.
A business should not face bankruptcy before it gets off the ground simply because the rent is too high. Memphis helps to ease the burden.
Diversity and inclusivity
A conversation about entrepreneurship wouldn’t be complete without mention of WMBEs (Women and Minority-owned Businesses and Entrepreneurs), and no city is more aware of that than Memphis. While there’s still a long way to go to achieve a level playing field, Memphis supports programs and initiatives that work towards creating a more inclusive business environment.
Memphis-based programs like the Supplier Diversity Collaborative are designed to help Memphis small businesses succeed. Through these programs, the heads of minority- and women-owned businesses learn to increase sales via corporate connections and community development, then leverage this success to engage with private-sector companies. The collaborative guides companies through the MWBE certification process, after which they are listed in the MWBE catalog—a database that makes it easier for corporations to find and buy from MWBEs.
Similarly, the MMBC Continuum is an economic accelerator that helps qualifying minority- and women-owned businesses form partnerships with major corporations. With additional support from the Chamber and City Government, Memphis has ambitious goals of increasing the number of – and, more importantly, scaling – MWBEs by hundreds on an annual basis.
To address gaps in the workforce that ensure individuals are growing and scaling alongside businesses, the Memphis business community approaches workforce development as a team. The approach is four-fold: Memphis Works connects businesses and potential workers; the Workforce Investment Network provides the training, skill development and education that prospective employees need to become part of the local workforce; the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce focuses on long-term workforce development by identifying skill gaps and creating targeted training and education; and the Mid-South Quality Productivity Center partners with Southwest Tennessee Community College to offer consulting and training services to business owners.
By tackling entrepreneurial disparity head-on, Memphis is actively creating pipelines to success for issues that cities across the nation struggle with.
Memphis is home to Start Co., a startup incubator that provides new businesses with the capital, guidance, and discipline to find the investors and facilities they need. Via three different accelerators focused on B2B, ed tech, and women-led startups, Start Co. has graduated 55 startups, with a 75% follow-on funding rate and $18 million raised in investments.
ServiceMaster, the national home services company based in Memphis, is getting in on the startup action as well. In June 2017, ServiceMaster opened the doors to Ground Floor, an Innovation Center in downtown Memphis that consolidated its offices to a single headquarters in a former mall and also created a collaborative workspace.
“Innovation often isn’t this clean, nice bolt of inspiration,” noted ServiceMaster CIO Jamie Smith. “Innovation’s more about having the grit to see that idea through into the world. I really can’t think of a place better than Memphis, the city that had the audacity to create something as disruptive as rock ‘n’ roll and to challenge the monopoly of the postal service.”
Other successful corporations are also getting in on the start-up action, like FedEx, which sponsors the only logistics-focused accelerator in the country. Memphis serves as a hub for innovation in highly lucrative fields, giving large corporations opportunities to plug into talent while giving back.
Moving produce throughout the country is easy.
Whether in retail or manufacturing, for a business to thrive in the modern ecosystem it is necessary to offer online e-commerce services. Whether customers purchase products one at a time or by the hundreds, it’s critical to have a strong infrastructure to move goods throughout the country.
Memphis, Tennessee, is centrally located within the United States. This makes it nearly equidistant between New York and Miami. It cuts time when shipping out West, and yet nearly any package will arrive at its final destination in just a few days. For larger manufacturing projects, the rail system does run directly through Memphis. So whether goods need to go northwest to Chicago or southeast to Atlanta, the rail is cost-effective and reliable.
The international airport makes traveling in and out of the city easy as well. It’s not an oversized or overcrowded hub, which helps keep prices down and flying comfortable, without dealing with the overpopulation of a crowded airport common in other destinations.
Discover what Memphis can offer.
For any business owner searching for the right destination to open a business (or move their current company), Memphis has the infrastructure and cost-saving rental opportunities that other cities do not have.
Bring your ideas
Solo practices, family enterprises, maker businesses and startups are the lifeblood of the Memphis business community, while a low cost of living and moderate home prices make the area attractive to a robust workforce. Small businesses thrive in Memphis, and we welcome you to join our network of doers, dreamers, makers, and believers.
To learn more about how Memphis supports entrepreneurs, check out our partner websites: