MEMPHIS RESTART INITIATIVE
Memphis ReStart is a multi-facet initiative launched by
the Black Business Association of Memphis to focus on three areas:
Talent, Acquisitions, and Talent Acquisitions.
The Black Business Association of Memphis (BBA) is missioned to improve the economic well-being of the Memphis region by developing successful entrepreneurs and MWBEs through education, advocacy, and business development. Creating and implementing innovative and strategic programs to propel MWBEs toward economic opportunities for growth and prosperity is paramount.
Through the Memphis ReStart Initiative, the BBA is strategically working to connect Black individuals with viable business skills for advancement, business ventures, and executive placements in key local industries forecasted as high growth potential in the Memphis market, such as advanced manufacturing and technology enterprises.
On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee for fighting for the rights of black workers. Fifty-three years later, Memphis has made little progress in creating economic growth opportunities for MWBEs, specifically black populations.
Memphis is the urban hub for the 2nd poorest metropolitan area in the United States with a population of over 1 million people. According to the University of Memphis’ 2020 Memphis Poverty Fact Sheet, the poverty rate for Black Memphians is 26 percent – nearly three times higher than the poverty rate for Whites.
This rate is expected to grow with the damages of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy which has disproportionately impacted Black business owners and populations, revealing persistent vulnerabilities. Historical racial oppression and structural disparities require community wide efforts and investments to dismantle and restart a more equitable and inclusive economy for all people.
What to Expect
Next Level Leadership will focus on Talent.
The BBA working with a program design team composed of instructional curriculum developers, seasoned industry experts, and local employers to develop a course of action to take Black entrepreneurs, managers, and small business owners to the next level for economic growth.
Lessons will cover topics such as business acumen, financial planning, sales, and executive leadership. In addition to class work, networking, and seminars, the Initiative will provide access to Growth Coaching to create plans to explore career and busi n ess mode ls based on customized personal/business goals, experiences, education, capacity, and opportunities in the market.
Succession Solutions will focus on Acquisitions
Succession Solutions will focus on Acquisitions: With this effort, the BBA aims to identify, evaluate, and facilitate the acquisition of companies owned by Baby Boomers without succession plans as well as viable companies considering an exit from the Memphis market.
The goal is to accelerate MWBE wealth creation by matchmaking and connecting these owners with Black entrepreneurs (men and women), Black-owned companies and ambitious, business-minded managers willing and able to step into ownership roles.
Our Succession Solutions approach brings together and collaborates with former business owners, job training programs, community development organizations, banking partners, faith-based partners, and labor organizations that are uniquely positioned to identify target sectors and facilitate successful opportunities and transitions.
Diverse Central will focus on Talent Acquisitions.
We will work to organize placements of Black professionals with employers offering career opportunities specifically within industries struggling to identify and hire diverse candidates.
President and CEO
Ernest D. Strickland
Our new President and CEO, Ernest Strickland holds an MBA from Bethel University and a Bachelor of Professional Studies from the University of Memphis. Strickland has led a multitude of successful economic and workforce development projects throughout his career. He recently served as an architect of Memphis’ community-wide workforce development initiative, Upskill 901 – a program aimed at upskilling 10,000 individuals over a three-year timeframe.
Strickland comes to the BBA after a stellar 15-year career with the Greater Memphis Chamber. At the Chamber, his most recent role was Senior Vice President of Workforce & Talent Development. Before this position, he served the Chamber as VP of International, Director of Workforce Development and Public Policy, Existing Business Consultant, and Business Development Associate.
Before working at the Chamber, Ernest owned and managed Investors First Realty. In this capacity, his responsibilities included managing cash flow, driving property acquisitions and sales, and serving as property manager for the firm’s portfolio of real estate owned.