Located near downtown, the Memphis Medical District is home to some big-name institutions, such as the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Together, these institutions are committed to creating a healthier local community in the heart of Memphis – but they’re not just focused on physical and mental well-being. Rather, they’re building a multi-functional live-work community that fosters local business growth.
In addition to St. Jude and the University of Tennessee, seven other medical organizations anchor the Memphis Medical District: ALSAC, which is St. Jude’s fundraising arm; Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare; Regional One Health; Baptist College of Health Sciences; Southern College of Optometry; and the Memphis Bioworks Foundation. They’ve also encouraged other businesses to move into the district, including Orion Federal Credit Union. Now, they’re encouraging residents to move into the area and local businesses to supply it.
The major institutions within the district spend more than $1.2 billion per year on goods and services, such as medical supplies, imaging equipment and temporary staffing. In an effort to spend more of that money locally, the medical district wants local businesses to create innovative solutions for the district’s needs. On Oct. 26, the Memphis Medical District kicked off its “Operation Opportunity” initiative, which challenges local businesses to create a buy local business plan for the district. If local businesses can introduce solutions for things like software and staffing, they’ll earn valuable partnerships with the medical district’s anchor institutions.
To bring more residents to the medical district’s part of town, the collaborative provides an incentive for employees of the district’s institutions to buy and rent in the district. Employees can earn up to $2,000 toward a new apartment lease or up to $15,000 toward a new home purchase. Current homeowners can also earn financial incentives for completing exterior upgrades on their homes. The so-called Live Local Medical District program seeks to turn the medical district into a hub of life, not just business.
Meanwhile, the Memphis Medical District has already begun to jumpstart the community-building activities around its location. In September, the medical district launched, with the Downtown
Memphis Commission, its Freewheel program. The program consists of casual bike rides around the city throughout the fall. Rides begin near the local High Cotton Brewing Co. on Monroe Avenue, and riders can borrow one of the medical district’s bikes, which are maintained by the nearby Carpenter Art Garden Community Bike Shop. The rides bring people together to experience the medical district and the local community that surrounds it.
Through these programs and others, the Memphis Medical District demonstrates that communities are stronger when big institutions leverage the power of small businesses. The partnership between the city’s largest medical facilities and locally owned businesses will undoubtedly create a healthier, more sustainable community for residents, patients and employees. For more information about the Memphis Medical District, visit www.mdcollaborative.org.