Retail giant Walmart Stores Inc. plans to invest at least $135 million to open a massive import distribution facility in Mobile County, creating 550 jobs and providing a major boost to the Port of Mobile.
Walmart’s new 2.5 million-square-foot facility will service about 800 stores with products primarily shipped through the Alabama port’s container terminal. The company’s plans were announced at a groundbreaking ceremony at APM Terminals.
“As you know, there’s been a tremendous competition for the distribution center that Walmart is going to build here in Mobile,” Glen Wilkins, public affairs directors for the retailer, said at the ceremony.
He added: “I think we did a great job choosing Mobile. I think that was a fantastic idea.”
The Alabama facility will be Walmart’s sixth import distribution center in the nation as the retailer expands its logistics network. Wilkins said the majority of hiring will occur in the first three months of 2018, with the facility expected to be fully operational in the second quarter next year.
“Walmart’s decision to locate an import distribution center in Mobile County is a clear signal that Alabama is serious about creating jobs for its citizens and expanding the potential of the Port of Mobile,” Governor Robert Bentley said.
“Walmart is making a substantial investment in Alabama, and we look forward to expanding our valuable partnership with the company through this project,” he added.
The Walmart distribution center will become an important player in the Port of Mobile’s container business. The facility is expected to generate cargo volume of approximately 50,000 TEUs, or 20-foot equivalent units, a standard of measure in container transportation. It will boost port traffic by 10 percent.
“Walmart’s distribution and logistics center in Mobile County will enhance Alabama’s connection to the global economy and provide a major boost in cargo volume to the Port of Mobile,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce, who spoke at today’s ceremony.
“The Walmart hub will act as a powerful catalyst for job creation and significantly increase the operations of the world’s largest retailer in the state.”
“I think we did a great job choosing Mobile. I think that was a fantastic idea.”
Secretary Canfield added that the Walmart distribution center project is the first to qualify for a “port credit” incentive adopted in 2016 by the Legislature as part of the Alabama Renewal Act.
The port credit is meant to stimulate cargo traffic and job growth at facilities such as Port of Mobile. The 4,000-acre seaport is one of the nation’s busiest deep-water ports, handling more than 50 million tons of cargo annually. Walmart qualified for a port credit totaling $3 million.
Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart already has more than 38,000 workers in Alabama. The 550 full-time jobs being created at the import distribution center in Mobile will have an average annual wage of $35,000, plus benefits. Some salaried workers will earn more than $50,000, Walmart said.
The Alabama State Port Authority and APM Terminals joined the state and local economic development team that worked on “Project Beverly,” as it was codenamed during the recruitment.
“We are excited about how this facility will help us serve customers from Alabama to the Great Lakes and the economic impact it will have through local job creation and future economic development in the Mobile area,” said Jeff Breazeale, Walmart’s vice president of Direct Import Logistics.
“We are grateful to the State of Alabama, Mobile County, the City of Mobile and the Alabama State Port Authority for the support we have received throughout this process, and we look forward to a strong relationship with the community for years to come.”