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Dec 10, 201302:49 PMThe Tip Sheet

The latest in Memphis business news

Greater Memphis Chamber's Chairman Luncheon: Goodbyes and Hello

Dec 10, 2013 - 02:49 PM
Greater Memphis Chamber's Chairman Luncheon: Goodbyes and Hello

No big announcements came during this year’s Greater Memphis Chamber Chairman’s luncheon, but the light celebration of Southwest Airlines’ arrival balanced the departure of two major chamber leaders.

The event was a sort of last hurrah for outgoing Chamber president and CEO John Moore and outgoing Chamber board chairman Larry Cox. Leigh Shockey of Drexel Chemical has been named Chair of the chamber for 2014, and Moore's replacement will be found by a search committee.

Moore will depart the chamber’s top job at the beginning of January. He joined the chamber in 2005 after he moved to Memphis in 1994 to serve as Northwest Airline’s regional vice president of sales and administration. Moore oversaw $4.5 billion of new investment in Memphis and Shelby County during his term with the chamber, according to a presentation Tuesday.

“I’m not moving away,” Moore promised the audience of more than 1,000 gathered in the Grand Ballroom of The Peabody Hotel. “I’ll be here loving Memphis and figuring out what to do next.”

Cox, president and CEO of Memphis International Airport, was greeted with a round of applause when he took the stage Tuesday, to which he responded, “Thanks. I needed that.” The joke seemed to be a recognition of some of the bad news that has continued to vex the airport, particularly the continuous cuts to Memphis flight by Delta Airlines.

But the crowd was surprised when Tennessee governor Bill Haslam was introduced and especially when the governor walked on the stage. Haslam said he has the “best job in the world” and gets to travel the entire state. He joked that he used to “be the mayor of a small East Tennessee town where we used to play football,” a gentle jab at his native Knoxville.

“There are more people working here to make Memphis one of America’s greatest cities than anywhere I know of,” Haslam said. “There is no way that Tennessee is one of the greatest states in the country without Memphis being a great city.”

This year’s event was more of a victory lap for the chamber and Memphis business in the past year than it was a platform to layout plans for the coming year.

The arrival of Southwest Airlines was a centerpiece of the Chamber lunch. Southwest began service to Memphis International on November 3rd.

The airline showed a video of its first flight to Memphis, which featured an Elvis impersonator singing “Love Me Tender” at 35,000 feet and welcomed by ground crew of dancing Elvis impersonators.

To show its appreciation of Memphis, Southwest handed out $100 ticket vouchers to every member of the audience.

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