Ted Townsend to lead University of Memphis and Greater Memphis Chamber Collaborative

Sept. 16, 2020 — The University of Memphis in partnership with the Greater Memphis Chamber, has announced a new economic development partnership dedicated to the growth of the Memphis economy. Ted Townsend will serve as chief economic development officer and will focus on this partnership full time.

“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,” said Townsend.

Townsend has served as chief economic development and government relations officer for the University of Memphis since early 2018. Prior to coming to the UofM, he was deputy commissioner & 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, Greater Memphis Chamber President & CEO. “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 has 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 has also worked to create more internship and employment opportunities for students.

“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,” said Willie Gregory, chairman of the board for the Greater Memphis Chamber and director of Global Impact for Nike.

Townsend will lead an integrated chamber and university team that will strategically recruit businesses within targeted industry sectors by promoting 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 UofM 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 UofM and the region.

“I’m excited to work with a group of highly skilled professionals to aggressively market Memphis both nationally and internationally, while aligning public and private partnerships that will direct our workforce development programming and other key resources towards existing business expansion opportunities,” said Townsend.

Townsend is a graduate of the University of Memphis 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.