What is Memphis Heritage Trail?
Memphis Heritage Trail (MHT) is a revitalization project focused on an underserved but historically vital section of the city. MHT was developed and is administered by the City of Memphis – Division of Housing and Community Development. Its goals include renovating existing structures, attracting tourists, showcasing the city’s history, and revitalizing residential neighborhoods. MHT is the culmination of a carefully executed plan to stimulate and expand the Memphis economy, to spotlight Memphis trailblazers and rich history, and to improve and strengthen African American historic neighborhoods. In a nutshell, it is an economic development driver focused on cultural tourism to revitalize the local neighborhood.
Community engagement is a major part of the MHT initiative. It started with convening an advisory committee to help guide the planning process. The members are community leaders in various disciplines that have influence in a field of interest (e.g. arts, history, culture), community development, fundraising and government. They are believers in the MHT mission and committed to the project. The primary responsibilities of the advisory committee are to elevate MHT’s profile among potential supporters and partners and to guide the project moving forward.
The MHT initiative meet quarterly. Stakeholders participate in seven work groups. The groups are Arts and Education, Heritage and Tourism, Community Engagement, Funding and Leveraging, Economic Development, Physical Environment and Technology. These workgroups are responsible for planning as it relates to enhancing sustainable development with the support of tourism; developing a tourist attraction market; increasing hospitality conditions; developing human resource management; establishing an efficient operative system for the Memphis Heritage Trail.
Some of the community stakeholders include businesses, churches, nonprofit organizations, neighborhood residents, parks services, and public housing residents. The project team identified key stakeholders who had an immediate impact and influence on MHT. The project team meets with members from entities associated with South City, Orange Mound and Soulsville as a part of stakeholder outreach. Team members have conducted workshops, hosted special events, and facilitated presentations to public and private sector audiences. The success of the Memphis Heritage Trail is due to research, planning, community input and amazing partnerships and resident involvement. See Community Engagement Report for details.
MHT is governed by an advisory committee of a cross-section of community members and experts who support African American heritage, tourism, and community and economic development.
Regena Bearden – Memphis Tourism
Rev. Noel Hutchinson – Resident Representative
David French/ Jessica Richards – Memphis Brand Initiative
Carolyn Michael-Banks – A Tour of Possibilities
Faith Morris – National Civil Rights Museum
Rosalind Withers/ Angela Williamson – Withers Collection Museum & Gallery
Archie Willis – ComCap Partners
Lauren Barksdale – City of Memphis, Housing and Community Development
Felicia Harris – City of Memphis, Housing and Community Development
MHT Main Neighborhoods
- Orange Mound
- South City
Note: MHT also includes other key sites. See MHT Map for details.
What are the goals of the project?
- To develop stronger cultural and heritage tourism as a mechanism for economic development
- To promote and celebrate the cultural assets and contributions of people in the targeted community through visual and physical reminders of the history
- To provide a better quality of life and more opportunities for residents
- To create a positive sense of place in safe and vibrant neighborhoods
What is the benefit?
Just allocating for the tourism part, MHT could be worth as much as $265M in economic impact. It will also raise the profile of our city’s rich history, while vastly improving the residential and commercial opportunities available to people currently living in these areas.
How will it be implemented?
MHT has a three-phase plan that is underway with Phases 1 & 2 complete. Phase 3 focuses on technology. See our Collective Story for more details.
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