Officials break ground for new JNJ Express Headquarters in vacant Delta Retail Center on American Way. Pictured (l-r): TN Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris, TN Governor Bill Lee, JNJ owners John Ennis, Jr., and John Ennis Sr., Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland and Beverly Robertson, interim director for the Greater Memphis Chamber. (Photo: Dena Owens)

by Dena Owens, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

JNJ Express, Inc., a family-owned transportation and logistics company based in Memphis, TN, has announced plans to move its current headquarters to the vacant retail center at 5000 American Way.

The plan involves an $8.3 million investment and the creation of 610 new jobs – drivers as well as a variety of employees – over 5years. JNJ Express boasts state-of-the-art equipment for truckload drivers and operates more than 450 vehicles at present

State, county, city and Memphis Chamber officials have partnered with JNJ Express to launch the project in Memphis. The plan has been in the making for four years.

To create solid business opportunities for a wide range of participants, a minority and women business enterprise (MWBE) component and financial incentives are in the process of being developed among the partners. Beverly Robertson, interim director for the Greater Memphis Chamber, will later announce a new proposal for incorporating MWBE opportunities in forthcoming major economic developments in the bluff city.

The JNJ Express announcement comes two weeks after the FedEx Logistics revealed plans to relocate its headquarters to downtown Memphis and is the second time in a month that Gov. Bill Lee has traveled to Memphis to offer his support of the city’s economic growth.

During Tuesday’s ground-breaking ceremony on American Way, Mayor Jim Strickland reiterated that “Memphis has momentum.” He pressed the point that as Memphis celebrates the new economic development boom in the downtown core, “it’s just as important to celebrate what’s going on down the street with major investments.”

Strickland said the city will continue to spread economic development opportunities throughout the city as the downtown core expands its presence as a desirable location for small and major businesses to consider.

Dignitaries from East Tennessee have expressed support of the JNJ Express plan to build its new headquarters in West Tennessee – those supporters have included Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and State Sen. Ken Yager, who were present for Tuesday’s ground-breaking activity.

“Memphis cannot succeed without their support and leadership,” Strickland said assertively as he thanked the officials for their consideration of all of Tennessee.

The former retail center at 5000 American Way once housed Walmart and Circuit City stores, and was home to several small retail businesses and the night spot called Level II. During the announcement, Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris recalled memories of the night spot in his younger years and noted that the area will become lively and active again after years of vacancy.

Harris also mentioned the area’s amenities, such as being close to the interstate and the site’s proximity to a pool of nearby job seekers

Memphis, often referred to as “America’s Distribution Center,” is home to more than 400 trucking and logistics companies, including JNJ Express, and is the headquarters for Federal Express.

JNJ Express, Inc., owned by the Ennis Family, markets itself as “treating drivers better” and having a commitment to employee retention.

(For more information about JNJ Express, visit  www.jnjexpress.com, or www.facebook.com/jnjexpress.)