Detroit to Memphis: Post-Industrial Urban Economic Development and Revitalization Strategies

Leslie brings her experience leading Detroit’s TechTown to Memphis, where she has taken the helm of an exciting new organization called the EPIcenter. The mission of both groups is similar: to reinvigorate struggling, post-industrial cities by championing residents with bold ideas and tenacity, and empowering them to convert those ideas into solid and sustainable businesses. From its inception in 2007 through 2014, TechTown served over 1,000 small companies and helped them raise $107MM in capital that created new jobs, vibrancy and an infusion of wealth into the local economy. Leslie is now standing up Memphis’ EPIcenter, a “front door” point of contact for entrepreneurs and creators that coordinates local resources around small business training, mentors, investors, networking, and technical assistance programs. From cloud-based services to coffee shops, Leslie fiercely believes that we can redefine cities and neighborhoods by catalyzing innovative ideas, and the audacious founders that develop them into startup companies.

  • Leslie Lynn Smith, President of EPIcenter and Vice President of Memphis Bioworks Foundation


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