News 5 has learned that Walmart is planning to build a super regional import distribution center in Mobile County.
The proposed location for the supersized facility is the southwest corner of Interstate-10 at McDonald Road in Irvington. The site is west of Theodore and Tillman’s Corner.
“It’s a huge deal for Mobile and we’re excited,” said Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl. “Team Mobile has worked hard to put this together.”
The Mobile City Council and Mobile County Commission have called for special meetings to approve a deal with Walmart.They are expected to vote on the deal in special sessions on June 30.
The center’s approximate size would be 2,900,000 square feet on a 400-acre area of land. That would make it nine times the size of the Airbus hangar, and four times the size of the huge Ace Hardware distribution warehouse in Loxley. It will be Walmart’s sixth super regional facility in the United States and the fourth largest.
The purpose of the center is to receive containers of merchandise from Asia and redistribute the products to Walmart stores across the south.
The economic impact could be unprecedented. It is estimated to bring 550 jobs (plus 200 seasonal jobs) to the region with an average annual salary of $36,000. The facility would bring substantial business to Mobile’s container terminal at the port.
The timeline for construction is still unknown. It’s expected to take at least a year to build.
Walmart received several major incentives to bring the distribution site to Mobile County. One of the richest companies in the United States, Walmart will receive $2.3 million in incentives from Mobile County, $2.3 million in incentives from the City of Mobile and $7 million in incentives from the state of Alabama, plus waivers on various fees.
Only five other of these Walmart import centers exist. They are in Mira Loma, California near Los Angeles, Baytown Texas near Houston, Elwood, Illinois near Chicago, Williamsburg, Virginia, and Statesboro, Georgia. .
All of those are near major ports and this would be huge business for the container terminal in Mobile. Goods would be brought in from China and elsewhere in containers that would be trucked down I-10 15-miles to the distribution center. From there merchandise would go to Walmart regional distribution centers and from there to retail stores.
“The Panama Canal opening up, being able to get larger vessels in, instead of dropping off on the west coast, they’re able to bring it through the Panama Canal and drop it off in Mobile which opens us up to a whole new avenue,” said Carl.
Walmart representatives reached by News 5 issued a statement but refused to fully commit to the deal. That’s not a surprise considering the facility still has to clear some major hurdles.
“We are in the beginning stages of assessing the prospect of building the facility, but have made no decisions in terms of any potential investment. We’ll continue to work with Mobile County, the City of Mobile and the State of Alabama closely through the process and we thank them for their feedback so far. We hope to have more to share later this year about the quality jobs and economic growth this project would create for Mobile and the surrounding area.” — Walmart