Community leaders say that new businesses, primarily along Watkins Street, could eventually add about 350 new jobs.
In Memphis, Tennessee-Fraser, the region has been suffering from poverty, crime and other challenges for decades. Long-time residents are changing that by remodeling abandoned buildings, opening up new businesses, and adding hundreds of new jobs in the coming months.
“It’s just excitement and at the same time overwhelming,” said Queen Cunningham, co-owner of D’s Wings.
That’s the atmosphere that Cunningham feels lately. I witnessed her new life in the Fraser community where she grew up and still call her home.
“When the neighborhood grows, we will grow and become more and more customers, new customers,” Cunningham added.
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Now, just meters from the restaurant on Watkins Street, where she opened with her sister a few years ago, devastation and abandonment are being replaced by hope and new opportunities.
“There is an economic recovery that I believe is happening in Fraser,” said Ricky Floyd, pastor of the Church of the Pursuit of God.
Rev. Floyd and others across from the church he leads have made the final decision to buy a series of businesses. It includes a family clothing store and is aiming to open next month.
“Our wish is to form a modern Blackwall Street type thing here when celebrating Juneteenth. To live in, own and hire a community,” said Rev. Floyd. Added.
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Starting a new business at Frayser will not only bring new jobs and opportunities. They also instill new pride and momentum for other business owners to follow suit and set up stores.
“Fraser is hot here, we want to be part of it, we want to be part of it, and we want others to join us,” said Peggy Jefferson.
Jefferson and her husband recently purchased another shopping center in Watkins. This shopping center has multiple furniture stores and dozens of jobs.
“We’re doing a lot of development at Fraser, and we want to be part of that,” Jefferson added.
As for Cunningham, she is optimistic about her neighbors now and in the future as new investments are born around her.
“It’s just great, and it makes the kids in the neighborhood a kind of belief and gives them hope,” Cunningham said.