A FedEx Ground distribution center at the Golden Triangle Industrial Park should be complete later this year, according to Golden Triangle Development LINK CEO Joe Max Higgins.
The project will replace the two smaller buildings on South Frontage Road with a much larger distribution center.
“I think they’ll be done by late summer, maybe early fall,” Higgins said. “They’ve got the exterior of the building about done, and everything is going well.”
The building is only about half of the total investment, Higgins said.
“The guesstimate we had was about $25 million for the building, but then the stuff that goes inside is maybe a little more or a little less than that,” Higgins said. “Conservatively I’m thinking $50 million in value.”
The project was announced in October 2021. The new distribution center is located on about 41 acres off of Charleigh Ford Drive, near Golden Triangle Regional Airport. LINK Vice President for Economic Development Meryl Fisackerly estimated it will be between 217,000 and 235,000 square feet.
“To put that into perspective, the current facility is one building that’s about 20,000 square feet and another that is 7,000 to 8,000,” she said. “Combined, they’re not even at 30,000 square feet.”
Lowndes County Board of Supervisors President Trip Hairston said there’s no downside for the county.
“This is a vast expansion for (FedEx’s) operation,” Hairston said. “That means more ad valorem tax revenue for the county, because they’ll be paying taxes on that building and the equipment in it. The expanded operations there will also create jobs.”
Higgins estimated the center will create upwards of a hundred jobs.
“Conservatively, I’m going to say about 150 jobs,” he said. “Realistically it’ll probably be more like 200.”
Hairston also pointed out that the old FedEx buildings will become available for a new tenant.
“It creates an opportunity for those old buildings to be used for something else,” Hairston said. “A growing business could go in there and use it, so it creates an opportunity for growth for another business.”
The distribution center is part of a growing trend towards e-commerce, which, in turn, provides tax money. A portion of sales tax collected via online sales comes back to the county for use on roads and bridges, Hairston explained.
“We get (use tax) revenues to the tune of $1 million per year,” he said.
Distribution centers similar to this one are common nationally, but somewhat uncommon here, Higgins said.
“Some places it’s their bread and butter,” Higgins said. “For us, not so much. But with the pandemic, people started ordering more and more online. The need for these centers became more frequent, and I think there’s going to be more and more of those. For example, we worked with Amazon last year; it just didn’t make. That doesn’t mean it won’t make in the future.”
The footprint for the Lowndes County center is smaller than might be expected, Higgins said.
“That center serves to the state line to the east and maybe to Winona or so to the west,” he said. “I never asked north or south, but if the east/west is just that far, you’re not talking about a hell of a big footprint you’re going to serve. That shows me how much e-commerce has increased in our part of the world.”
If the demand continues to grow, Higgins said there is room for the FedEx site to expand with it.
“(The Lowndes County Industrial Development Authority) has a gentleman’s agreement with them that they won’t put anybody on the land beside them for a certain period of time,” Higgins said.
FedEx, in a statement sent via email to The Dispatch, said the Golden Triangle was chosen because of its ease of access to the highway network.
“The site was chosen because of its ease of access to major highways, proximity to customers’ distribution centers and a strong local community workforce for recruiting employees,” the statement said.
In addition to both full- and part-time jobs, it will also employ contractors.
“The company also will contract for package pickup and delivery services with service provider businesses that hire locally for driver, helper, manager and other positions,” the statement said. “We continue to experience significant package volume due to e-commerce growth and are optimizing the capacity of our network to meet growing demand for our services.”
Brian Jones is the local government reporter for Columbus and Lowndes County.