Telecom Company to Open Call Center in Shelby County

By Amos Maki

A telecommunications-related company will locate a major call center in Shelby County, a project that will create hundreds of new jobs.

The company, which has been operating under the code name Project Moscow, will announce the deal that will employ over 500 people on Wednesday, Jan. 22, according to sources with knowledge of the project. The unidentified company would operate the call center for one of the nation’s largest telecommunications providers, Verizon.

Gov. Bill Haslam, the Greater Memphis Chamber, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell late Monday afternoon invited select guests to attend a “major economic development announcement” Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at FedExForum.

The sources said the Greater Memphis Chamber, along with state officials and city and county leaders, has been working behind the scenes to bring the operation to an existing business campus in Shelby County.

Wharton and Mark Herbison, senior vice president of economic development for the Greater Memphis Chamber, declined to comment on Project Moscow.

Many details about the project, including the name of the company involved, wages, capital investment and what type of incentives Memphis, Shelby County and the state are offering, remain a closely held secret.

The creation of more than 500 jobs would make Project Moscow one of the largest new job generators in Memphis in the last several years, producing nearly twice as many jobs as the $200 million Mitsubishi Power Products Inc. plant in Rivergate Industrial Park. Mitsubishi has already hired around 115 people and will eventually employ around 300. The $316 million expansion of the Kruger Products mill in North Memphis will create around 100 new jobs. Nike’s expansion in Frayser will create around 250 new jobs. Electrolux plans on employing around 1,200 people once its plant inside Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park reaches peak production.

Recruitment efforts on Project Moscow have been taking place behind the scenes for months. Typically, the state or a site selection firm will make first contact with the Greater Memphis Chamber on behalf of a company, then the chamber begins working quietly with state and local officials to line up possible incentives or infrastructure improvements to bring the firm to Memphis and Shelby County.

This is the first major local economic development project to be started and finalized under Haslam, who is up for re-election this year. Haslam’s administration ended up seeing the Mitsubishi and Electrolux projects, which were initiated by former Gov. Phil Bredesen, through to completion.