Leading Memphis companies make airport area top priority - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Joe Birch

Leading Memphis companies make airport area top priority

With FedEx, Memphis has the number one cargo airport in the world. And it turns out the airport and the surrounding area are this region's true engine for economic growth. That's why leading Memphis companies have made improving the airport area a top priority.

Back-hoes remove debris from what will be a new bus terminal at Airways and Brooks within sight of the airport:

"This will be a true multi-modal facility where Greyhound will come in, city buses and it'll be...hopefully in the future...a hub for a larger light rail system," John Lawrence of the airport development corporation said.

John Lawrence serves as director of the new Memphis Airport Area Development Corporation.

It was created by top airport area companies to solve a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. How to set the stage for business growth with enhanced beauty and safety in a hodge-podge unlike any other. 

"We have an area that's developed somewhat haphazardly. But that's what we're all here to straighten out," Lawrence said.

For example, orthopedic giant Smith & Nephew's corporate campus sits on Brooks Road hemmed in by a trailer park.

Down Brooks, strip clubs thrive.

But fewer hookers work along Brooks than in years past after a full court press from police and the district attorney.
"Crime statistics are down for the road and the area as a whole around here," Lawrence said.

The focus is now on improving things. Creating a new master plan for growth from the airport, cleaning up Brooks Road all the way to Elvis Presley Boulevard and then South to Graceland.

"I want to give you a comfort level that nothing's changing," Priscilla Presley said.

Priscilla assured Elvis' birthday fans last week that the inside of Graceland mansion will remain undisturbed. But all around Graceland, it's a much different story! 

"There are investors all up and down this street looking for new hotel properties," Lawrence said.

The old Howard Johnson's motel is being town down. And just this week, Elvis Presley Enterprises announced the purchase of the Royal Oaks Apartments adjoining Graceland.

It's all part of billionaire Robert Sillerman's plan to transform the area into a Disney-esque mecca. The ultimate Elvis experience.

It's all about growth at Graceland and airport area companies like Medtronic, which has a 180,000 square foot office building in the works.

Just the kind of development Lawrence was hired to encourage.

"Much of what we're doing throughout 2008 is master planning Brooks Road and Elvis Presley Boulevard, creating an identity and a communications plan for this area to let people know they've arrived someplace," Lawrence said.

Taking back this neighborhood might just create the jobs that help Memphis' economy expand and take off!

If your business is near the airport, the Memphis Airport Area Development Corporation wants your help planning the future.

You can call 396-1564 for more information. 

Click here to e-mail Joe Birch.

Click here to e-mail John Lawrence with the Memphis Airport Area Development Corporation.

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