By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
The Jefferson County Commission last week approved tax abatements for a 290,000-square-foot FedEx Ground distribution facility on a 46.01-acre site off Lakeshore Parkway.
FedEx will invest nearly $40 million in the project, which sits on the Birmingham-Bessemer boundary and is expected to create close to 300 jobs.
The Memphis-based company plans to retain and relocate 12 full-time and 49 part-time employees from its existing 92,500-square-foot facility near Trussville and plans to employ 27 full-time and 197 part-time employees within three years for a total of 285 workers. Payroll will be roughly $6 million.
Steve Ammons, chair of the Jefferson County Commission’s Economic Development Committee, said FedEx Ground “gives the area another distribution point in Jefferson County.”
He also noted that the Birmingham City Council this week voted to rezone the former Century Plaza location for industrial use to set the stage for an unnamed company to build a package distribution center in that location.
“There will be a couple of more opportunities that we can hopefully announce in a month or two (and) that’s another major distribution center,” Ammons said. “It’s helping us expand as we try to pivot with the new normal of (what) I’ve been calling ‘the COVID pivot’ … how can we better apply what our needs are for the MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) and people who are probably going to start shopping more online than ever.”
After last Thursday’s vote to approve abatements for FedEx, Commission President Jimmie Stephens said the company is “another jewel in the crown of that distribution area that is becoming a focal point in western Jefferson County.”
Last week, Trey Hill, an attorney with the Bradley law firm, told a Jefferson County Committee of the Whole that about 70 percent of FedEx Ground site is in the corporate limits of Birmingham and 30 percent is in Bessemer.
“Having a site that crosses municipal lines, as you might expect, does present some challenges with who will be responsible for collecting and who will receive certain taxes like occupational taxes and business license taxes,” Hill said, “which city will be responsible for providing fire, police and paramedic protection.”
The Birmingham City Council and the city of Bessemer last week both approved an intergovernmental agreement to coordinate municipal services for the distribution center. The commission followed on Thursday with its tax abatements.
The county’s tax abatements include costs of the developer and costs of FedEx Ground: the developer’s construction-related taxes are projected to be $55,049, non-education ad valorem taxes $162,601, and mortgage and recovery taxes $906. FedEx Ground’s construction-related taxes are projected to be $34,400 and non-education ad valorem taxes $8,894.
Ammons said he was pleased the companies were selecting Jefferson County given the challenges of COVID 19.
“We have multiple projects that we are working on right now that will have an impact between now and the end of this calendar year,” he said. “We are meeting virtually and using Zoom and Microsoft Teams to deliver and receive information.”
FedEx plans to invest $40 million in a new distribution center that will be built on the border of Birmingham and Bessemer on Lakeshore Parkway. (contributed)
Stephens said having brand name corporations like FedEx, Amazon and Publix doing business in the area paves the way for more opportunities.
“When you have national brands choosing Jefferson County, it helps to recruit other businesses to the area … which means jobs and prosperity for our citizens,” he said.
Going forward, Ammons acknowledged that promoting the area could change given the lessons learned during the pandemic.
“We are going to have to look at promoting our properties, start doing more virtual tours or probably engaging more folks with video so we can deliver high-quality views of properties or opportunities,” the commissioner said. “We have to think differently and we have to be more aggressive in our COVID pivot. We have to make a direct and consistent effort to make sure we maintain the relationships for site selectors and developers and the engineers who help us get down the road. … That’s going to be super important.”