By Barnett Wright
The Birmingham Times
Lowe’s, the retail giant specializing in home improvement, plans a 1.2 million-square-foot, $40 million facility in Bessemer as part of its expanding distribution network, area officials confirmed on Wednesday.
The facility on Morgan Road next to Carvana will create 150 to 200 well-paying positions and add to the Lakeshore corridor that has been a prime target for site selectors in the metro Birmingham area.
“We are extremely excited that Lowe’s Companies, Inc. has decided to increase its footprint in the Southeastern United States by locating here in Bessemer,” said Mayor Ken Gulley. “This is the latest in our efforts to position Bessemer as an economic powerhouse for manufacturing and industrial development in this county, state and region.”
The center should be operational by the fall of 2021 and will be located in a corridor that already includes recently announced FedEx Ground next to the nearly 1 million-square-foot Dollar General Distribution Center.
“I particularly want to thank the Lowe’s Companies, Inc. for recognizing the value of investing in Bessemer,” Gulley said, “This new development . . . will greatly enhance the city of Bessemer and create 150 to 200 well-paying positions.
“My objective remains the same as Mayor: my desire is to create a working climate in the city of Bessemer where everyone who wants a job can find meaningful employment and provide for themselves and their families.”
Jefferson County officials also welcomed the announcement.
“[The County] has become the distribution center of the Southeast,” said Commission President Jimmie Stephens. “We have the intersection of four interstate systems . . . and one of the most accessible rail systems in the Southeast. You can bring products in and distribute from Morgan Road in Bessemer, Alabama to anywhere in the world . . . economic growth means jobs and jobs mean better quality of life for our citizens.”
Steve Salazar, a Lowe’s spokesman, said in a statement, “The 1.2 million square-foot facility will enable Lowe’s to provide faster and more predictable deliveries to customers in Alabama and surrounding states as we continue to grow our distribution network. These new facilities will enable next-day deliveries for a broader range of products and give customers a more consistent experience.”
The facility will serve as a bulk distribution center that will provide daily shipments of appliances and other items such as riding mowers, grills and patio furniture to Lowe’s cross-dock facilities and also replenish inventory at more than 112 stores, serving locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Tennessee, according to the company.
Steve Ammons, chair of Jefferson County Commission’s Economic Development Committee, said the project means more “above average paying” wages for local workers which began with Amazon, Carvana, Fedex and Mobis coming into the area, “but also have the benefits that workers need to have long term careers and hopefully leads to other support mechanisms for these distribution companies and manufacturers.”
He added, “You have the daytime use folks working those jobs that will lead to retail that’s closer so they can go and have lunch or dinner on the way home . . .you have the workforce out there and eventually it will continue to build.”
The center is part of a $1.7 billion investment Lowe’s is making in its supply chain through 2023 that will create nearly 5,000 nationally jobs in this initial expansion.