The Black Business Association of Memphis (BBA) named Ernest Strickland as its new President and Chief Executive Officer. Strickland joins the organization after serving as Senior Vice President of Workforce Development for the Greater Memphis Chamber. In his new role, Strickland will oversee the 47-year-old organization that empowers entrepreneurship and improvement of business and growth opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses. BBA partners with multiple organizations throughout the community supporting the goals of economic equality. Strickland will officially take the helm on Wednesday, April 1st.
“Ernest is the right man at the right time,” said former BBA President & CEO Mark Yates and now Chairman of the BBA Board of Directors. (Yates left the organization in January to serve as the new Regional VP of West Region for TVA.) “With his understanding of economic development, particularly in a city that is majority minority, Ernest brings the experience and understanding of what minority-owned businesses need to thrive in our city. He will ultimately take BBA to the next level.”
Strickland joins the BBA after a successful career at the Greater Memphis Chamber where he most recently held a position on the senior leadership team. Throughout his career at the Chamber, Strickland held various roles from business development in membership to vice president of International business development and then ultimately to lead the workforce development team. Traveling throughout the world representing Memphis afforded Strickland the opportunity to learn first-hand what businesses need to compete, not only locally, but at an international level. A fifteen-year career working alongside executives from some of the top companies in the world lends inspiration to Strickland’s vision for BBA.
“The time is right because there is a heightened awareness and intentionality around the value of creating wealth in the African American community,” said Strickland. “When Memphis is able to speak to wealth creation, in addition to addressing poverty, we will shift the conversation and ultimately shift the outcomes.”
Strickland’s vision for BBA is to focus on 3 key areas: talent, acquisition, and talent acquisition. “At the heart of business is its people, its talent. We hope to provide next level leadership training for African America professionals – taking managers, entrepreneurs, and business owners through coursework that will be able to take them to the next level in their careers and business,” said Strickland. “Through acquisition, we will look for opportunities for black businesses to grow and expand by acquiring established companies. Finally, through talent acquisition, as we develop next level leadership training we will amass a diverse list of candidates for hiring opportunities.”
“If we get this right, Memphis is a different city - a competitive city,” said Strickland.
Strickland is a native Memphian. Prior to joining the Chamber, he owned and operated Investors First Realty, a brokerage a residential real estate investment firm. He earned his degree from University of Memphis, and his MBA from Bethel University. He currently serves on the Greater Memphis Workforce Board, New Memphis Board of Trustees, and Whole Child Strategies Board of Directors. Strickland is the proud father to five children, including twin girls and serves as “Dad-ager” to rising Hip Hop/R&B singer Mille Manny.