• 1,000 new jobs could be coming to North Memphis through ‘Project Iris,' officials say

    By: Siobhan Riley , Leah Jordan

    Updated:

    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - One thousand new jobs could be coming to North Memphis.

    That's according to Shelby County Commissioner Willie Brooks.

    Sources close to the project said there would only be two companies that would have this type of facility they're talking about.  

    One very strong possibility is Amazon, but no one could confirm that just yet for good reason. Deals like this often come with confidentiality agreements. 

    So, it wasn't a surprise when Shelby County Commissioner Willie Brooks told FOX13 he could not say what company is coming.  

    What he could say is these jobs would likely pay at least $15 an hour.

    The North Memphis vacant lot just north of the Nike Distribution Center could soon become a new development, possibly bringing at least 1,000 jobs to the North Memphis and Frayser area.  


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    Shirley Hawkins said her daughter needs the work because she's like so many people in her community.

    "She's trying to make ends meet. Living from paycheck to paycheck just ain't going to get it," Hawkins said.

    The development is being referred to by the codename "Project Iris."  

    Although Brooks could not talk specifics, he said the proposal would attract warehouse logistics jobs inside a distribution and warehouse facility.

    "We feel that we can provide the workforce that will meet the needs and expectations of the perspective employer," said Brooks.

    People who live in North Memphis said transportation is an issue, making it tough to get to work.

    Community activist Pastor Charlie Caswell knows the impact of having jobs closer to home.

    "Two and a half hours to three hours on the bus to get to work and then many times not having the bus routes running every hour. It's been very hard, so to see these jobs coming to the community… it's going to be very impactful for the families here," Caswell said.

    Hawkins said her daughter, who works in retail, also travels far to get to work.  

    "That would be very good for this neighborhood and the people sitting around and can't get out. Maybe they would be able to walk to work instead of trying to find a ride," she said.

    The Developer Seefried Industrial Properties has built a number of facilities for Amazon. 

    FOX13 called and sent a text to the spokesperson with Amazon to find out if they are looking at the property. Our calls went unanswered.

    Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland issued the following statement regarding the incoming jobs:

    "At the first of the year when I gave my State of the City Address, I said we were going to accelerate our momentum and make sure it reaches the parts of our city that need it most," Mayor Jim Strickland said. "This proposed project will do exactly that by bringing in new jobs, new development, and new life to a strong Frayser community. I mean it when I say ‘Memphis—all of Memphis—Has Momentum'!"


    With the possibility of Amazon making a new home in Frayser, FOX13 dug into complaints that come along with the working conditions at some Amazon fulfillment centers.

    Some workers have been claiming that working conditions are less than ideal at the company's warehouses.

    In 2018, a rally was held outside of one fulfillment center to pressure the company to improve conditions. 

    Now, some warehouse employees are seemingly expanding their resumes by acting as social media public relations representatives.

    In one example on Aug. 14, a woman tweeted that Amazon should treat its workers better, as "they can afford it." 

    Dylan, an Amazon fulfillment center "ambassador," responded about 30 minutes later on Twitter:

    "Everything is fine, I don't think there is anything wrong with the money I make or the way I am treated at work," he tweeted.

    FOX13 reached out to Amazon for comment and received the following response. 

    "As a company, we work hard to provide a safe, quality working environment for the 250,000 hourly employees across Amazon's US facilities. We provide a $15 minimum wage for all US hourly employees, opportunities for career growth, industry-leading benefits, and hands-on training using emerging technology. Associates are the heart and soul of our operations, and in fact, they are also our number one recruiter for new hires by regularly encouraging friends and family to apply for roles. We encourage anyone to compare our pay, benefits, and workplace to other major employers across the country."

    In another example, a tweet shows an FC ambassador criticizing unions.

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