Nike Inc. plans to launch a $65 million upgrade to its two Memphis distribution centers in a move that will create 338 jobs over four years. Nike is seeking tax breaks for the project through the Memphis and Shelby County Industrial Development Board's payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program.

The IDB evaluation committee reviewed Nike's PILOT application Tuesday and recommended a 10-year tax freeze. The full IDB is scheduled to vote on the recommendation Oct. 15. If the application is approved, work could start in two to three months.

Preliminary figures from the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Economic Development show the company will save $13 million to $15 million in city and county property taxes on the value of the improvements over the first ten 10 years.

Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton, who must also approve the tax freeze with Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, applauded Nike's plans.

New jobs created at the upgraded facility will have an average annual salary of $34,265.

Each $1 invested in payroll turns over six to 10 times in the local economy, said Frank M. Marion, professor of marketing at Christian Brothers University.

At the average pay rates Nike projects, about $11.5 million would be added to payroll and that could generate as much as $100 million in a year's circulation through the metro area.