Summit Recap


The W2W - Workforce to Work Transportation Summit was convened by the University of Memphis Design Collaborative (UMDC) and Innovate Memphis on December 11, 2015.

Following an annual conference on critical planning, design and operation issues of intermodal freight systems - The State of Freight - the Design Collaborative was compelled to ask, "what about moving people to employment opportunities in Memphis?"

When the UMDC held a series of Let's Stay Together, Memphis events in early 2015, transportation rose to the top of concerns facing Memphians and was one that needed immediate further exploration. The W2W Transportation Summit was a culmination of a semester's work for 21 undergraduate and graduate students from the Departments of Architecture and City and Regional Planning who exhibited their final project Moving in Memphis at the summit. Over 100 practitioners, students, and community members participated in Thursday's afternoon sessions to learn and discuss how, as institutions, organizations and individuals, we can better connect people to workplaces in Memphis.

To keep the conversation moving, we're sharing some take-aways reflecting common themes that can inform action toward more equitable and comprehensive transportation and mobility options for Memphians.

For those lucky enough to get a seat for the provocation address by Benjamin de la Pena and panel moderated by Carol Coletta, both of the Knight Foundation, we learned that:

  • Improving bus service will support the working poor in getting to jobs and attract mobile talent who are choosing walkable, transit-friendly work environments
  • Low cost solutions like buses and bike lanes can help people almost immediately
  • Public funding investments are not equitable. Most transportation dollars go to roads, parking and associated infrastructure. Those who can't or choose not to drive, especially the low-income, elderly, and disabled, make up 45 percent of the population yet receive much less than that in transportation choices
  • Creating change includes reevaluating how federal dollars are given to us, how they are used and who decides.
  • Employers and workforce development groups are increasingly interested in helping find transportation and mobility solutions

and key topics from the four concurrent workshops included:

  • There's a critical need for a city Comprehensive Plan that links land use and transportation
  • Institutions and Transportation Management Associations can increase transportation choices with shuttles, more bus service and management of existing parking resources
  • Sprawl can be limited through zoning and economic development policies
  • Planning in advance of technological changes can limit future "disruption" of the way transportation networks currently function
  • Innovation through public-private partnerships may be able to fill gaps in service
  • Biking isn't for someone else or a narrow demographic but a tool for all of Memphis

Links to the student exhibit, provocation address and workshops are below:

Were you able to attend the W2W Summit? What were your take-aways? Tell us your experience of the summit and help us shape the content of future events by taking our brief five-question event survey.