MEMPHIS, Tenn. — More Mid-South leaders are weighing in as Memphis’ mayor pushes to make the Bluff City one of the most-wired cities.

Mayor Jim Strickland’s plan calls for 85% of the city to be connect to fiber internet. He said only 28% of the city currently has fiber internet.

The city council must still OK a plan providing that to at least 60% of the city and 60% of low-income areas within the city. Blue Suede Network is ready to invest $700 million to build out the network.  

Ted Townsend, president and CEO of the Greater Memphis Chamber, said he was at the city council meeting Tuesday to learn more about the ordinance.  

“Any time we have the opportunity to secure a private sector investment in our infrastructure is a good thing for Memphis,” he said.

Townsend said fiber internet can help set Memphis apart from other cities and called it a crucial investment.

“These companies can invest anywhere in the country, and what we hope is that we create an environment that entices that kind of investment,” he said. “It plays a critical role. These companies are obviously looking at a number of evaluations on where they place this investment. More of the companies we’re talking to are advanced manufacturing or advanced industries, and they absolutely require high speed access. The fact that we could have a community that has unlimited expansion capabilities in this vital utility is what we’re supportive of.”

It’s expected to take five to seven years to build the network.