MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Senior White House business advisors said Memphis is not in bad shape when it comes to the economy, with a city work force ready to get busy. The trouble is many of them aren't ready to deal with the needs of new companies coming to the city.
Mid-South business leaders met with White House staff last week. They know that people in Memphis are looking for good jobs; the challenge is to find ways to help you get those jobs.
Johnny Moore, CEO of SunTrust Memphis, noted, "We've created jobs in Memphis with Electrolux and Mitsubishi. What we've got to do is ensure we've got a proper well trained work force, sufficient to provide the company with what they need to get up to a full level of performance quickly."
The years of working an assembly line with a power screw driver, in charge of loosening up three screws, then passing the work down the line, are over. There is high tech in these new companies.
"New companies coming in need a workforce with a very specific skill and we have a large pool of labor that is under employed," said David Kemmes with the University of Memphis. "They have some skills, but not quite the right ones."
This is a city that was built on the lowest tech industry you could find: cotton. Now the business leaders have been told that they've got to find ways to get people ready to work in the new manufacturing jobs, and colleges and universities need to think of new training plans that don't make a grown man and woman feel like a dope. At issue are a lot of real middle class jobs, jobs that pay between $40,000 and $60,000 a year. These are jobs that will help the economy in all sorts of ways.
"You've got to make 40 to 60,000 dollars to be able to go to a Grizzlies game ... spend 20 or 30 or 40 dollars on just food at the game after you buy a ticket," Moore explained. "That's the big difference in Memphis with middle class income and that's why those jobs are so important."