Investing in Greater Memphis

Greater Memphis’ major employers invest in new facilities and in the region’s future

By
Bill Lewis
On Thursday, August 16, 2018 - 17:55
Memphis, TN

Greater Memphis’ signature businesses and institutions are investing billions of dollars in themselves and the community while expressing their confidence in the region’s future as the ideal place to flourish.

Two organizations synonymous with Greater Memphis – St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and FedEx – are each investing $1 billion or more in expansions and new technology. Another business closely associated with Memphis, AutoZone, has also invested in larger facilities. The company announced the acquisition of two properties in Memphis’ Cotton Row district so that it can expand its downtown headquarters.

Greater Memphis has landed a string of recent headquarters locations and expansions, including claims management company Sedgwick’s $33 million headquarters, real estate management company LEDIC’s new headquarters in East Memphis, apartment company MAA’s new Memphis headquarters and ServiceMaster’s decision to relocate its headquarters to downtown Memphis, where it opened an innovation center.

All of them were attracted by the advantages of doing business in Greater Memphis, including low taxes and costs, a skilled workforce and an unparalleled quality of life.

FedEx World Hub

FedEx is investing $1 billion to expand its World Hub at Memphis International Airport, a commitment that will ensure the facility’s future at the heart of the company’s global network.

"A billion dollars is the capital investment that we’re making. You’re talking about six years of construction. You’re talking about jobs that are going to be much more oriented towards technology, automation, modernization. And it’s going to be transformational for Memphis and the state," says David Cunningham, president and CEO of FedEx.

The project, which will run through 2025, involves replacing obsolete facilities with new buildings, conveyor ramps, aircraft gates and facilities to handle the sort of oversized shipments that have become increasingly common with the growth of e-commerce. The Memphis hub presently can move up to 475,000 shipments an hour.

"We will be investing in new sort systems, new automation, new capabilities, modernization of the facility and expanding our truck and unload capabilities here substantially. We’re also going to be making this a much better place to work for our employees,” says Cunningham.

“We’re putting in a lot of modern capabilities to this facility to improve the quality of life and the environment that our employees will have when they’re here working,” he says.           

St. Jude Expands

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is making its own billion-dollar-plus investment. The world-renowned pediatric cancer center is expanding its campus, hiring additional staff and drawing additional scientists and clinicians. A key component is a new $412 million, 650,000-square-foot advanced research center.

“The advanced research center will bring together a powerful combination of talent and technology in a space designed to propel discovery,” says Dr. James R. Downing, St. Jude president and CEO.

The center will feature customized labs focusing on immunology, neurobiology, cell and molecular biology, metabolomics, epigenetics, genomics, immunotherapy and RNA biology. The center will also house key facilities and transformative technologies, including a state-of-the-art biorepository, a gene-editing center, a stem cell shared resource and a cutting-edge advanced microscopy and image analysis core, all fully integrated with advanced information technology systems, high-speed connectivity and visualization tools to enhance local and distance information sharing and collaboration.

Memphis, TN
Courtesy of Phillip Van Zandt/Memphis Tourism

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The advanced research center is expected to accommodate growth over the next 20 years and beyond, with two of eight floors slated for future expansion and evolving technology. It is expected to be completed by early 2021. Other planned facilities include patient housing, a new clinical office and a new outpatient clinic.

St. Jude expects to hire 1,000 new employees between now and 2021. The hospital currently has 4,700 employees. The number of scientists and clinicians being added has not been finalized.

“We are creating an environment where scientists and clinicians will have ready access to leading-edge resources and opportunities to pursue breakthroughs in hopes of accelerating progress in treating and curing catastrophic pediatric diseases,” says Downing.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Lewis is an award-winning business journalist whose work has appeared in publications across the United States.