A company that invested $1.6 billion in network expansion projects last fiscal year said the Greater Lehigh Valley plays a key role in those plans.
The company, FedEx Ground, demonstrated that this morning by hosting a groundbreaking for its major East Coast automated hub off Willowbrook Road in Allen Township.
With construction now underway after years of meetings and numerous challenges, officials celebrated the start of the 800,000-square-foot project which would employ 700 upon opening in two years. At full build-out, the facility could employ more than 3,000 and be expanded to 1.1 million square feet. About 100 of those 700 employees would be transferred from existing facilities.
“There’s potential for growth with every one of those individuals,” said Scott Burns, vice president of regional operations for the Eastern Region of FedEx Ground in Moon Township in suburban Pittsburgh.
Burns said he began his career at FedEx as a package handler and moved up the ranks. Many employees who are hired often stay with the company, he noted.
The Allen Township facility has the potential to produce 75,000 packages per hour, Scott said.
FedEx Ground continues to see steady growth in e-commerce and has invested $1.6 billion in infrastructure for these types of facilities, he said. For the Allen Township hub, it is investing $330 million, Burns said.
The investment includes road improvements and package-processing equipment.
“There’s so much growth on the East Coast that we need these types of buildings,” Burns said. “The growth is going to continue with e-commerce.”
He estimated it would take one year to build and another to complete the interior by August 2018.
“We’ve got about 15 other projects, not as large as this,” Burns said.
Gov. Tom Wolf said FedEx’s decision to build a site here is reaffirming how the state is a great place for business.
“That’s why the state has invested in this project,” Wolf said. “They are reaffirming that. This is a big investment; a lot of new jobs are coming here.
“We are pleased that FedEx is telling us what we already know here.”
The FedEx facility will be on land Lehigh Valley International Airport sold to pay off a longstanding debt.
Now, the airport will have the money needed to do improvement that had been deferred, said Tony Iannelli, president and CEO of the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Larry Oberly, Allen Township supervisor, said FedEx is the biggest business to enter the township since 1895, when Atlas Cement opened.
“This is a godsend to us, and we appreciate it very much,” Oberly said. “It’s been a long road; the process has been done with the utmost integrity.”