Memphis City Council Member Proposes Drastic Minimum Wage Increase for Businesses That Take Corporate Welfare


At least one Memphis City Council member reportedly wants any business that accepts the city’s corporate welfare to raise their minimum wage from $13 to $21.

None of the 13 Memphis City Council members returned The Tennessee Star’s requests for comment Monday.

The Memphis Flyer reported last week that Memphis City Council member Martavius Jones proposed the minimum wage increase for businesses that take pay in lieu of tax incentives (PILOT) through the Memphis and Shelby Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE).

“Currently, the minimum wage requirement for PILOT projects is $13 an hour, which Jones said is less than a livable wage,” The Memphis Flyer reported.

“PILOT projects give temporary tax abatements in return for a commitment to contracting local minority- or women-owned businesses, creating jobs, and making other community investments. To date, EDGE has incentivized 128 PILOT projects. Recipients include large companies such as ServiceMaster and Amazon to local companies, such as Hollywood Feed and Superlo.”

The Star asked EDGE spokesman Keisha Oliver on Monday if she and other officials worry that a minimum wage increase might drive current businesses out of Shelby County and discourage new ones from coming in.

Oliver said in an email that she could not respond before Monday’s stated deadline.

In 2019,  EDGE bestowed a generous amount of corporate welfare upon AutoZone and $9.5 million in tax incentives to bring IKEA to Memphis. IKEA informed city officials they could not do what they promised in exchange for that money. IKEA officials gave up some of their previously approved 11-year tax abatement.

IKEA did not hire the number of jobs or pay the level of wages it promised city and county officials in exchange for lesser property tax payments. Officials with the European-based company described just how selective they are in choosing store locations. IKEA’s application revealed the company picked communities based on where it can get the most generous tax incentives.

Those areas include St. Louis; Merriam, Kansas; and Centennial, Colorado, according to IKEA’s application with the city.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Martavius Jones” by Martavius Jones.





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5 Thoughts to “Memphis City Council Member Proposes Drastic Minimum Wage Increase for Businesses That Take Corporate Welfare”

  1. 83ragtop50

    I did not realize that the core citizenry of Memphis actually had jobs. I truly thought that the majority already simply lived on government handouts.

  2. Chris

    These are the same people who want Shelby County, which is fiscally responsible, to merge its government with the City of Memphis, which is circling the drain.

    Lots of luck with that.

  3. EdC

    Apparently Jones favors unemployment and poverty. But, it is Memphis after all.

  4. While I commend efforts to increase minority participation in the political process, I cannot understand why they keep putting forward the stupidest people to represent those minorities. That includes congresspeople, mayors and governors, down to the local level, like Memphis. Nashville has its share, too. What a wasted effort.

  5. Walter Ashford , sr

    Novel idea and solution for the minimum wage controversy.
    Make the minimum wage a percentage of the total compensated person in a company, including stock options, bonuses, benefits etc.
    Say 10%. If the highest paid person in the company takes home $500,000 then the company minimum wage would be $50,000.
    This improves the wage base and helps limit the skimming that management does for its own benefit.