Memphis, Tennessee Colleges, Universities

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Memphis, Tennessee Colleges and Universities


Memphis is a city located in the Shelby County of the state of Tennessee in the United States. It is a city with many names: The M, Blues City, MEM, the River City, the Bluff City, the BBQ Capital of the World or even the Birthplace of Rock and Roll. Founded in 1819 and incorporated in 1826, this city has an area of around 324 square miles with an estimated population of more than 650 thousand people. This makes it the biggest city in the entire state as well as the biggest city on the Mississippi River and the 23rd largest in the country. The Memphis metropolitan area has a population of more than 1.3 million people. Despite being the largest city of Tennessee, it is the youngest of the state’s major cities.

Memphis has been known for being the biggest spot cotton market of the world as well as the biggest hardwood lumber market of the world. Both of these are the products of the Mississippi Delta. Back in the 1950s, Memphis was also the biggest mule market of the world. The city is also known because of its cultural contributions to the persona of the American South as several prominent musicians and artists have grown up in and around this area and carried the legacy of this place along with their arts wherever they have gone, including Elvis Presley, Muddy Waters, B. B. King, Justin Timberlake, Zach Myers and many more. The heritage of the city is celebrated and promoted by the biggest event of the city, Memphis in May, which takes place for an entire month, including International Week, Beale Street Music Festival, Great River Run and World Championship Barbeque Cooking Contest – the world’s biggest pork barbeque cooking competition.

There are several museums located in the city, including Brooks Museum of Art which is the oldest and the biggest fine art museum of the state, National Civil Rights Museum, Belz Museum of Asian and Judaic Art, Children’s Museum of Memphis with educational and interactive activities, Pink Palace Museum with the third biggest planetarium of the country and Cotton Museum. The city also has other attractions such as Graceland which is the former house of legend Elvis Presley and attracts more than 600 thousands visitors every year, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis Walk of Fame designed following the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Victorian Village and Mud Island River Park. Other major parks in the city are Tom Lee Park, Overton Park, W.C. Handy Park, Audubon Park, Memphis Botanic Garden and many more.

Top Sectors in Memphis


Memphis has always been at a strategic advantage for business development due to its central geographic position. It is located on the Mississippi River and the core of 5 key freight railroad intersections along with 2 Interstate Highways. This makes the city optimally located for business in the sectors of transportation and shipping. The initial growth of the city came due to its easy access by water via steamboats, followed by the construction of railroads which reinforced its link to the market in east and west. The highways and interstates have had a considerable impact on the transportation industry as well.


Memphis is one of the biggest metropolitan areas of the Southeast, with the rank of 41 among the top 75, based on the Department of Labor Release. With a history of being one of the biggest shipping centers of the Mid-South, Memphis used to have one of the largest ports on the Mississippi River. The city has been able to maintain its importance as a transportation core with more development of the transportations methods and techniques. Currently, Memphis has the second biggest cargo airport in the world. The busiest domestic airport of the world is the Memphis International Airport with more than 3.9 million metric tons. This had a big impact on the railroad industry, giving birth to the third biggest rail center of the country.


The ease and accessibility of the transportation and shipping sectors of Memphis have made the city lucrative for businesses, particularly the one involved in producing items to be shipped around the nation. Fortune 500 organizations are located here with Memphis being their home city, including AutoZone, FedEx and International Paper Co. Commencing its operation in 1973, FedEx had only 14 small aircrafts to deliver goods from the Memphis International Airport. The company now has over 6 million shipments every day in over 220 nations. Such huge corporations have significantly contributed to the manufacturing sector. More than 34 percent of the jobs in this city come from the manufacturing and transportation industries. Other big brands located in this city include Allenberg Cotton, Baker, Bearman, City Gear, Fred’s, Lenny’s Sub Shop, ServiceMaster, Varsity Brands and so on.


With time, Memphis is relying less on the manufacturing and transportation side. This has begun since the 1950s with more and more companies shifting off shore because of cheap labor. This has allowed the economy of Memphis to diversify and focus on services as well. From 2003 to 2013, the GDP of private sector manufacturing sectors have increased from around 8 thousand million to 11.5 thousand million dollars while the private sector service sectors increased from around 39 thousand million to 48.6 thousand million dollars.


The service sector in the city include banking and finance with companies like Union Planters and First Tennessee, real estate with firms such as Weston Co and Belz Enterprises, nonprofit with companies like Ducks Unlimited, restaurants with firms such as Backyard Burgers, science and technology with companies like Buckman Laboratories, Morgan-Keegan, Brother Industries USA and Sharp Manufacturing of America. The entertainment and film sectors have also flourished in Memphis, especially in the late 1990s with a number of big motion pictures being filmed in this city, including Elvis and Me, The Silence of the Lambs, The Firm, The Rainmaker, Forty Shades of Blue, Nothing but the Truth and Soul Men.


Due to its history of cotton roots, Memphis still has a strong grasp in several areas of agribusiness including cotton. It is still a big cotton market with 40 percent of the country’s cotton crop traded in Memphis. It has 3 of the biggest cotton dealers of the world, including Allenberg Company, Dunavant Enterprises, and Hohenburg Brothers. Memphis is also a key marketing hub for other sectors of the agribusiness, including hardwood, and paper products. Agricenter International is one the prime reasons for the growth of the agribusiness of Memphis, which is an 8 million dollar exhibition center spreading on around 140 thousand square foot, showcasing agricultural exhibitions and information exchange along with experimentation and research, focusing on farming and equipment.

Job Market & Top Employers in Memphis, TN


Memphis is the core of the distribution industry. The city has more than 76 thousand companies in the Shelby County with fewer than 10 employees, over 31 thousand firms with 10 to 50 employees, more than 7 thousand companies with 50 to 250 employees and over 1 thousand companies with more than 250 employees. Memphis has 3 Fortune 500 organizations which provide over 3 thousand jobs every year – AutoZone, FedEx, and International Paper. The biggest sector of employment is comprised by business and professional services, followed by education and health services and then agriculture. The city has a higher rate of unemployment compared to the average rate – around 5.1 percent. This means many are still in need of a suitable job. The city has ranked the 38th position for cost of doing business, 136th in terms of job growth and 131th for education according to Forbes.

Memphis has a diverse work force graduating from well-known schools and training programs. The city has a competitive rank worldwide due to competitive wages, low taxes and low cost of living. Memphis has one of the lowest costs of living compared to other urban areas, only 5.7 percent, which makes it easier for people to live comfortably despite a lower average annual salary compared to the U.S. average. The average annual salary in Memphis is around 41.5 thousand dollars while that of the US is around 47 thousand dollars. The median household income is around 46.9 thousand dollars. The job growth rate is around 1.7 percent of Memphis, which has grown considerably in the last few years. The health related sectors along with agro research and high tech bio sectors have significant growth potential.

Memphis has more than 26 thousand workers in the construction sector, 53 thousand in the manufacturing sector, 169 thousand in the trade, transportation and utilities sector, 8 thousand in the information sector, 33 thousand in the financial sector, 72 thousand in the business and professional sector, 71 thousand in the educational and health sector, 67 thousand in the leisure and hospitality sector and 90 thousand in the government sector. The top employers of the city are Federal Express Corp with more than 30 thousand employees, Memphis City Schools with more than 16 thousand employees, United States Government with more than 14 thousand employees, Methodist Healthcare with more than 10 thousand employees, Baptist Memorial Healthcare with more than 8 thousand employees, Shelby County Government with more than 7 thousand employees and Memphis City Government with more than 6 thousand employees. The city has gained a place in the top 8 of the 50 best major metro areas in the United States for commencing and sustaining a business according to the Inc Magazine.


Colleges, Universities in Memphis


Memphis has the Shelby County Schools which runs over 200 elementary, middle and high schools. The city also has several private schools such as Hutchison School, Evangelical Christian School, First Assembly Christian School, Christian Brothers High School, Lausanne Collegiate School, Memphis University School, Saint Benedict at Auburndale, St. Agnes Academy, St. George's Independent School and St. Mary's Episcopal School. There are a number of colleges and universities in Memphis including University of Memphis, Rhodes Colleges, Christian Brothers University, Memphis College of Art, LeMoyne Owen College, Tennessee Technology Center at Memphis, University of Tennessee Health Science Center and many others.

The University of Memphis was formerly known as West Tennessee State Teachers College and then West Tennessee State Normal School with the motto Driven by Doing. This public research university was established in 1912 and currently has more than 930 academic staff and 1.5 hundred administrative staff with more than 20 thousand students - over 16 thousand undergraduates and 4 thousand postgraduates. The university includes several different schools and colleges such as College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education, University College, College of Communication and Fine Arts, Fogelman College of Business and Economics, Herff College of Engineering, Loewenberg College of Nursing, Graduate School, School of Public Health, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music and others. It also has many centers of advanced research such as FedEx Institute of Technology and Center for Earthquake Research and Information.

The Christian Brothers University is a private university established in 1871. With an academic staff of around 110 and 1779 students, it is the oldest collegiate degree granting institution of the city spread on a 75 acre campus in the center of Midtown of Memphis. It is operated by the Christian Brothers which is a Roman Catholic religious order. There is the School of Arts, School of Business, Gadomski School of Engineering, and School of Sciences. The university has been ranked as one of the best southeastern colleges, ranked third for economic diversity among top ranked schools and 7th for racial diversity. It has one of the most diverse student bodies, with around 50 percent of the students being White American, and students coming from over 14 nations and 28 states.

The Rhodes College is a Liberal Arts college spreading on a hundred acre campus with the motto – Truth, Loyalty and Service. Established in 1848 and formerly known as the Masonic University of Tennessee and then Stewart College, this private college currently has around 210 academic staff and more than 2 thousand students. In this college, students are motivated to engage in off the campus activities and service learning, focusing on student research and writing. It constantly ranks among the top liberal arts colleges in the U.S.