Greater Memphis Chamber elects first black woman

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The Greater Memphis Chamber of Commerce is making history with its choice of a new board chair.

Carolyn Hardy is the first black woman to hold the position in the Chamber's 175-year history.

"She's going to help redevelop a middle class in Memphis," Roby Williams, with the Black Business Association of Memphis, said. "Hello -- and we need that."

Hardy was unavailable for an interview on Wednesday, but Williams explained Hardy is a businesswoman with a proven track record.

"She understands that to develop more taxpayers, they have to have more well-paying jobs in this community, and people will take them, and work, and buy property, and pay property taxes," Williams said.

In a WREG Bright Spot with Markova Reed from 2011, Hardy discussed buying a beer plant on East Raines Road. Hardy sold the plant for expansion and job growth.

"Every time I hear someone say something negative about Memphis, I will politely wait for them to finish, and then I'll say let me tell you about these five things that are awesome about Memphis," Hardy said in the 2011 interview.

"It's so important to have people who are successful like that choosing to stay in Memphis and growing their business as we attract new business to Memphis," Phil Trenary, the president of the Greater Memphis Chamber, said.

Hardy was born in Memphis, went to Melrose High School and attended the University of Memphis. It means she knows the history of minority businesses in Memphis and the lack of business the city gives them.

There is hope she can help create the change the city has not.

"We're putting a whole lot on her back for her to carry, but she's got strong shoulders," Williams said.

Hardy will officially assume that new role in about two weeks at an annual luncheon at the Peabody Hotel.

Hardy is also a member of mayor-elect Jim Strickland's transition team for minority business development.

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