ULI Working with Memphis Mayor Wharton on Proposal to Create Innovation Business District within the City’s Medical District

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MEMPHIS, TN (January 14, 2014) — The Urban Land Institute (ULI) Daniel Rose Center for Public Leadership in Land Use is working this week with Memphis Mayor A. C. Wharton, Jr. and several local officials representing the city and Shelby County to initiate the creation of an innovation business district within and adjacent to the Memphis Medical Center.

The challenge for the city of Memphis, identified by Mayor Wharton and his team, is to better leverage the Medical Center — with its concentration of hospitals, higher education and life science companies in close proximity to downtown — as a catalyst for economic growth. The team is proposing to create an innovation district for research and development and technology companies that would serve the Medical Center’s businesses, spark economic development, create jobs, and help revive the surrounding neighborhoods.

Mayor Wharton and his team – Maura Black Sullivan, deputy chief administrative officer for the City of Memphis; Reid Dulberger, chief economic development officer for the city and Shelby County; and Josh Whitehead, director of the office of planning and development for the city and Shelby County – are serving as 2013-2014 fellows for the Rose Center. Through the fellowship program, participants receive leadership training and professional development opportunities, and they work with ULI to address local land use challenges. Memphis is one of four cities selected for the 2013-2014 Rose fellowships, along with Honolulu, Indianapolis and Portland, Ore.

ULI, comprised of more than 30,000 of the globe’s leading authorities on real estate and urban development, is a research and education institute dedicated to responsible land use and building thriving communities worldwide. Its Rose Center works with public officials throughout the United States to encourage and support excellence in land use decision making. By providing public officials with access to information, best practices, peer networks, and other resources, the Rose Center seeks to foster creative, efficient, practical, and sustainable land use policies.

This week, Rose Center representatives, including Executive Director Jess Zimbabwe, are visiting Memphis to meet with Mayor Wharton and his team to tour the site, talk with community and civic leaders and other stakeholders, and begin crafting a plan for the innovation district. According to Zimbabwe, this work represents an excellent opportunity to enhance an existing, underinvested neighborhood adjacent to the Medical District that currently has developable land available, and which is zoned to accommodate mixed-use development. “We are very excited to work with Mayor Wharton and his team to help make the innovation district proposal become a reality,” Zimbabwe said. “The goal is to leverage the area’s human capital, facilities and existing activities to attract and nurture research, development and technology commercialization, all within a reinvigorated mixed-use urban neighborhood.”

“The ULI Daniel Rose Fellowship program is an outstanding opportunity for Memphis to pull together entrepreneurial resources to transform a vital area of our inner city core,” Mayor Wharton said. “The medical district has the knowledge base, tremendous opportunity for growth, and the infrastructure that position it to be a world-class hub of innovation, collaboration and entrepreneurship to deliver products and services to individuals and businesses around the globe. We must find ways to protect, expand and create a global identity for this significant part of the city. We are most fortunate to have so many creative minds and innovative thinkers assisting us in this effort.

The Daniel Rose Fellowship is the flagship program of the Rose Center, established in 2008 by the ULI Foundation Governor Daniel Rose. The Center aims to empower leaders in the public sector to envision, build and sustain successful 21st century communities by providing access to information, best practices, peer networks and other resources to foster creative, efficient and sustainable land use practices.

The purpose of the fellowship program is to provide city leaders with the insights, peer-to-peer learning, and analysis needed to successfully improve their cities. The fellowship begins with the selection of four city mayors. Each mayor then nominates three additional fellows to serve on their city’s fellowship team. The mayors’ team members are made up of city department leaders or public agency directors with land use decision-making authority.  The fellowship’s program of work includes a study tour of another U.S. or foreign city, a working retreat, and study visits to each of the four fellowship cities.

NOTE TO EDITORS AND REPORTERS: Representatives of the Rose Center will be making a public presentation with preliminary findings regarding the Medical Center innovation district from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. CST on Friday, January 17th, at the Bioworks offices at 20 Dudley Street in Memphis.


About the Rose Center for Public Leadership
Founded in 2008 with a major gift from real estate developer Daniel Rose, the Rose Center provides public officials with access to information, best practices, peer networks, and other resources to encourage and support excellence in land use decision making. The yearlong Daniel Rose Fellowship program provides the mayors of four large U.S. cities with ULI assistance on a local land use development challenge. Beginning in 2014, the Rose Center operates as a partnership between the Urban Land Institute and the National League of Cities.

About the Urban Land Institute
The Urban Land Institute (www.uli.org) is a nonprofit education and research institute supported by its members. Its mission is to provide leadership in the responsible use of land and in creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. Established in 1936, the Institute has more than 33,000 members worldwide representing all aspects of land use and development disciplines.

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