FedEx grows Chattanooga footprint

FedEx grows Chattanooga footprint

August 20th, 2017 by Mike Pare in Business Diary

Staff photo by Mike Pare / FedEx Ground is readying to open a new facility at Interstate 75 and Apison Pike. Some 300 people are slated to initially work at the site.

Photo by Mike Pare /Times Free Press.

“FedEx is a worldwide brand. We want them growing in our city.”
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke

Parcel delivery company FedEx Ground plans to unwrap a new $30 million distribution center next month in Chattanooga that's expected to employ about 300 people.

The Memphis-based shipping giant is leasing the new 237,000-square-foot structure raised just off Interstate-75 at Apison Pike. Company officials said the new facility will enable FedEx to meet growing customer demand in the area.

Most of the 300-person staff of full- and part-time workers will be new positions, said FedEx spokeswoman Allie Addoms. The facility is the latest example of the rapid growth of that part of Hamilton County which now boasts more than a half dozen of its top employers.

"FedEx is a worldwide brand," said Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke. "We want them growing in our city."

Addoms said the new center on an 80-acre tract will complement FedEx's Alton Park location, which the company occupied just nine years ago. She said some employees will transfer from that location to the new facility, and plans are to add to the company's workforce as needed.

"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," Addoms said.

The new facility, built by Mobile, Ala.-based builder Saad Development Corp., is located just across I-75 from Enterprise South industrial park where Amazon and Volkswagen have large operations.

Within the past decade, the 6,000-acre industrial park has seen the construction of the VW auto assembly plant, which now employs about 3,400 people. Also, Amazon built its huge distribution center nearby where it employs an estimated 2,000 to 2,500 full-time employees. The nation's No. 1 internet retailer recently announced it's trying to fill 1,000 more jobs in Chattanooga and at its Bradley County distribution center.

In addition, Enterprise South holds a pair of factories built by VW supplier Gestamp. The Spanish company also repurposed the former Brock Candy Co. plant on Jersey Pike a few miles away for its third facility in Hamilton County.

Berke said the job growth at Enterprise South shows the importance of the planning that went into the creation of the industrial park that the city and county acquired from the U.S. Army.

"Enterprise South shows the value of deliberative planning," the mayor said.

Also nearby, tow-truck maker Miller Industries, located about a half-mile away from the new FedEx location, employs 600 and is completing a $20 million plant expansion.

Just north in Collegedale, meanwhile, is snack food manufacturer McKee Foods Corp., which employs about 2,700 people. Chattanooga-based trucker U.S. Xpress employs about 900 people just a couple of miles to the north off of Interstate 75.

James Saad of Saad Development said earlier that the FedEx facility's approximately $30 million price tag includes about $2.5 million in public utility and road improvements.

The 80-acre tract will have about 20 acres remaining for development at the front of the site, he said.

FedEx Ground's distribution facility in Alton Park was built in 2008. That $15 million, 163,000-square-foot facility is located on a former Wheland Foundry site.

For the new center, a tract within Enterprise South was initially considered off Hickory Valley Road, but was thought to be too small and much of it is wetlands, according to state documents.

The new facility is part of a nationwide FedEx network expansion to boost daily package volume capacity and further enhance its speed and service capabilities, said Addoms.

"Since 2005, the company has opened 15 new hubs featuring advanced material-handling systems," she said.

FedEx also has a location at the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport, where Lovell Field officials spent $2.3 million to expand a cargo ramp on the south end of its main runway to accommodate the company. FedEx went from servicing the airport with two smaller planes to a Boeing 727 at the time.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.


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