MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Oct. 1, 2021) – Ted Townsend today officially completes his transition into the role of chief economic development officer of the Greater Memphis Chamber, allowing him to continue and expand on the major economic victories the Chamber has scored for the region over the past year.
Townsend, who joins the Greater Memphis Chamber immediately, has served as chief economic development officer for both the chamber and the UofM since Sept. 1, 2020, as part of a partnership the two institutions formed to promote the growth of the region. Since then, he has led Greater Memphis in winning numerous economic development projects — including Ford Motor Company’s Blue Oval City, a historic $5.9 billion electric vehicles and battery campus at the nearby Memphis Regional Megasite.
“We’re just getting started and we’ve already landed the single largest investment in Tennessee history,” Townsend said. “That says a lot about where this region and chamber are going.”
As chief economic development officer of the Greater Memphis Chamber, Townsend will lead the local campaign to recruit and retain businesses in Greater Memphis. Under his leadership, the chamber is moving to a highly focused economic development strategy powered by the data of its new Center for Economic Competitiveness, which launched Thursday, Sept. 30. In addition to Ford, Townsend’s team has played a key role in landing 26 economic development projects so far this year that will result in $6.6 billion invested, 8,722 jobs created, and 721 jobs retained.
Before starting his transition to the chamber, Townsend had served as chief economic development and government relations officer for the UofM since 2018.
“Serving the University of Memphis has been the honor of my professional career,” said Townsend, a graduate of the UofM. “I am very grateful to President Rudd, his administration, the Board of Trustees, the faculty and staff, and our incredible students for their support and investment in the work of the Economic Development and Government Relations division. I have witnessed the UofM’s tremendous impact on our entire region and I’m looking forward to supporting its continued growth and success in my new role at the Greater Memphis Chamber. Go Tigers!”
During Townsend’s tenure at the UofM, he and his team worked to secure $45.9 million for projects, including the following investments from the state: $32.9 million for the STEM Research & Classroom Building, $5 million to support what Carnegie classifies as the highest level of research, and $6 million for Sprague Hall at the UofM Lambuth Campus to allow for expansion of the College of Nursing. He also worked to secure $2 million from Shelby County Government for the Mike Rose Aquatic Center.
Townsend also helped establish a series of public-private partnerships and led the opening of the University of Memphis Research Foundation Research Park and the recruitment of companies such as Prospero, CodeCrew, SweetBio, DEVCON and Green Mountain Technology, resulting in over 500 new jobs over the next five years and more than $10 million in capital investment. In addition to connecting companies with University resources, Townsend has worked to create more internship and employment opportunities for students.
“The University of Memphis greatly appreciates all of the outstanding work Ted has done for the past three years,” said UofM President M. David Rudd. “He has spearheaded a much-needed strategic coordination for the Greater Memphis region with the Tennessee legislature, along with recruitment and retention of businesses.
“Ted’s local knowledge is unparalleled, and he has deep connections across Tennessee. We wish the best of luck to Ted as he takes on this new role with the Greater Memphis Chamber full-time and look forward to his continued work for growth in the City of Memphis, University of Memphis and this region.”
Prior to coming to the UofM, Townsend was deputy commissioner and chief operating officer for the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, where he oversaw the department’s day-to-day operations. During his nearly seven years with the Haslam administration, TNECD announced more than 1,100 economic development projects committing 155,000 new jobs and more than $32 billion in private sector capital investment, making Tennessee the State of the Year in Economic Development in back-to-back years.
Townsend graduated from the UofM with a degree in organizational leadership, and is also a graduate of Leadership Tennessee Class V and the Leadership Memphis Executive Program. He presently serves as the President of the Economic Club of Memphis and is a board member of the YMCA of Memphis & Mid-South, Leadership Memphis Executive Committee, the UMRF Advisory Board, Junior Achievement of Memphis and the Mid-South, Seeding Success Public Policy Advisor, arGentis Pharmaceuticals Inc., and is the past chairman of the board for Life Science Tennessee.
Media requests: Email Greater Memphis Chamber Director of Communications Ryan Poe.
About the Greater Memphis Chamber: The Greater Memphis Chamber is a private, member-driven nonprofit that acts as the lead economic development organization for Memphis and Shelby County, Tennessee. As the “Voice of Business,” the Chamber works to attract and retain jobs and investment, advocates for policies creating prosperity for all, and provides resources, information and programming to help its members thrive. Founded in 1838, the Chamber is one of Memphis’ oldest institutions with roughly 1,500 members today, including many of the region’s largest employers.