Wal-Mart Distribution Center Coming to Somerset County - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wal-Mart Distribution Center Coming to Somerset County

Shown is the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Smyrna, Del. Shown is the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Smyrna, Del.

First posted 11/23/04 at 3:56 p.m. Last updated 11/24/04 at 8:25 a.m.

WESTOVER- After months of secrecy and speculation, it is official. Wal-Mart is bringing hundreds of new jobs to Somerset County.   

The retail giant is building a 450,000 sq. ft. distribution center in Westover on Revell's Neck Road near the Eastern Correctional Institution. Construction is set to begin in summer 2005 with the facility opening in the fall of 2006.

Initial hiring of approximately 250 area residents is expected to begin in early 2005. Within three years, the total distribution workforce is expected to grow to approximately 450. This will be a major help to lowering the county's unmployment rate, which is almost double the statewide average. 

Maryland officials say more than 90 percent of the jobs created will be full-time positions eligible for a comprehensive benefits package. The average pay will be $12 an hour, which is about 20 percent above the county average. The center will generate $450,000 in tax revenue for Somerset County. 

"This is truly a welcomed announcement for the citizens of Somerset County," said Charles Massey, Somerset County Administrator.

Along with the jobs and revenue, Somerset County residents can expect to see more trucks in the area. Walmart estimates 300 trucks will be going in and out of the center every day.

During the past few months, there has been a lot of secrecy surrounding this project. This was not because state or county officials wanted it that way, but because Wal-Mart insists on it.

"We're talking hundreds of jobs, hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue," said Wal-Mart spokesperson Mia Masten. "You don't want to get people's hopes up if you can't follow through. You've got to dot the i's and cross the t's before you go public."

Wal-Mart has plenty of experience in Maryland. In Maryland alone, the company operates 34 discount stores, five supercenters, 13 Sam's Clubs and employs more than 15,000 people.

Delaware already has a Wal-Mart Distribution Center in the town of Smyrna. Town officials there say Wal-Mart has brought them more than a big building. Their Walmart Distribution center started full operation at the end of January of this year. Since then, Walmart has hired nearly1,000 employees, generating money to the town, state and local businesses.

"I sell them electric and I collect property tax, and that's a real boom," said Smyrna town manager Dave Hugg. "If I look at it more from the community standpoint, it's great to have a big employer. There's a lot of money flowing into the economy, jobs for people who live here."

Town officials say having the distribution center in town is encouraging other big employers to bring business to Smyrna.


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