While Memphis may be known as the logistics capital of the world, another sector has provided thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in gross domestic product to the region: the medical device manufacturing industry.
A new study published by the Medical Device Council of Greater Memphis Tuesday showed that more than 18,000 jobs in the Memphis area are directly or indirectly supported by industry, and the total wages paid to those workers is about $1.5 billion a year. The industry’s projected annual economic impact on the region is more than $4 billion, or about 5.5% of Memphis’ GDP.
Conducted by Jackson, Tennessee-based Younger Associates, the study also showed that the average annual salary paid to direct employees of device makers – which encompasses a variety of jobs and salary ranges – is higher than $103,000. The industry has added over 1,900 jobs locally since 2015.
“It’s a thriving industry for the city of Memphis, fast growing, dynamic, revolutionary,” said Gary Stevenson, co-founder of MB Venture Partners, a venture capital firm that invests in life science companies. “Some of the greatest inventions in space have come from our region.”
He said Memphis’ medical device business is “the envy of the world.”
Members of the Greater Memphis Medical Device Council shared some of the key takeaways from the study – which included 45 companies – during the Musculoskeletal New Ventures Conference at the University of Memphis.
Jodie Gilmore, Chair of the Council’s Board of Directors and Chair of Orthopedics for Elos Medtechsaid the medical device manufacturing industry impacts people every day.
“Why is the medical device industry really important? Simply put, our businesses exist to save and restore lives. Every day we design, develop, manufacture and supply essential medical devices around the world,” she said. “And these devices help people live and help them live better.
However, Gilmore pointed out that the industry’s impact extends beyond hospital walls. She said the industry provides average salaries and generates about $50 million in direct and indirect taxes for the county and local municipalities.
The industry is supported by the robust local healthcare industry, including research centres, universities and hospitals. Shipping capabilities from the FedEx hub in Memphis also mean devices can go from the assembly line to hospitals in just hours.
Workforce Development Needs
Beverly Robertson, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, said Memphis is a good place to grow a business, and more companies are currently being prepared to operate in Memphis than there are. had for two decades.
“We work very, very hard to attract these companies and to develop the employees so that we have a talented pipeline,” she said.
Gilmore said that to continue to grow the industry, workers with specialist skills are needed. The most in-demand positions are skilled manufacturing, CNC machinists and fabrication, and quality engineers. Design and development engineers are also needed, she said.
Robertson said the chamber has two major projects underway, one of which the organization hopes to open in South Memphis or North Memphis in early 2023, to provide advanced manufacturing credentials.
“We’re really concerned about making sure that our youth and adults who want to upskill have the opportunity to earn credentials in the fields that need those in-demand, higher-paying jobs,” she said. declared.
The chamber has already acquired two large buildings for these activities and is working to attract the remaining funding needed for its programming. Robertson added that training Memphians for these high-skilled, high-paying jobs could help alleviate some of the poverty and crime issues the city has struggled with for years.
Gwyn Fisher, Greater Memphis regional director for the state Department of Economic and Community Development, said the industry’s continued growth is essential for the state as a whole.
“What we’re really seeing here is the perfect marriage…leading the industry forward, not letting academics guess what they need,” she said.
Gilmore said the Memphis area is the second largest in the nation for medical devices. She said she hoped he would become No. 1.
“We are really not satisfied. We can and will do more,” she said. “This is just the beginning… We want more businesses. We want more jobs. We want more impact. And there is growth to be had, and we would like that growth to happen here.
Corinne S Kennedy covers economic development and healthcare for The Commercial Appeal. She can be contacted by email at[email protected]