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FedEx Ground opens $43M facility

Staff Photo: John Bohn Robert Schaudel, a FedEx employee, photographs packages moving on new automated sorting equipment, as FedEx Ground unveils a new 216,000-square-foot, $43 million automated distribution facility on Thursday in Norcross.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Robert Schaudel, a FedEx employee, photographs packages moving on new automated sorting equipment, as FedEx Ground unveils a new 216,000-square-foot, $43 million automated distribution facility on Thursday in Norcross.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn FedEx Ground unveils a new 216,000-square-foot, $43 million automated distribution facility on Thursday in Norcross, as FedEx account executives Brian Versluys and Peggy Burgess tour the new facility. They pass an automated scan tunnel that reads bar code information on each package, determining proper sorting and routing of the package.

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Staff Photo: John Bohn FedEx Ground unveils a new 216,000-square-foot, $43 million automated distribution facility on Thursday in Norcross. Taking part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony are from left to right, Andrew Hixon, Mayor pro tem of Norcross, Lynette Howard, District 2 Commissiioner, Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, Bob Holcombe, FedEx Ground VP Southern region, Nick Masino of the Gwinnett Chamber and Tom Croteau.

NORCROSS -- A third economic development success in the last two years was unveiled in Norcross on Thursday.

Local and state officials unveiled a 216,000-square-foot, $43 million automated distribution facility for FedEx Ground thanks in large part to Norcross' proximity to employees and major highways. Mayor Bucky Johnson noted that it was fitting that since the city was built because a railroad came through, it was Norcross' location to move products through the Southeast that made it appealing to FedEx.

The area the facility serves stretches from Buckhead to Cumming and Lawrenceville to Dunwoody.

FedEx spokesman David Westrick said the appeal to Norcross was akin to a real estate cliche: location, location, location.

"Access to highways, an area to pull employees, and ways to access and serve our customers," Westrick said are the main objectives in finding a new facility.

Westrick said FedEx Ground also has major hubs in Kennesaw and Marietta that are larger than the Norcross facility.

Discussions for the project began about four years ago, and it was completed without county and city tax incentives, said Nick Masino senior vice president for economic development at the Gwinnett Chamber. FedEx Ground will receive state and use tax exemptions.

"I think they were so concerned about finding the right place," Masino said. "Not too far from their other facilities. Close to I-85 and 285. They said, 'We'll redevelop something.' They were just looking for the right place."

The facility is expected to bring 225 immediate jobs, and another 55 in two years.

Bob Holcombe, vice president of the southern division of FedEx Ground, said this facility would feature high speed scales and sortation equipment, and is one of 500 facilities that have been built or renovated by FedEx Ground across the country in the last five years.

"The bottom line is we're all here for growth," Holcombe said before a ribbon cutting.

Since last year, FedEx Ground joins two other companies that brough at least 100 jobs to Norcross.

Hyundai Construction Equipment USA renovated a 225,000-square-foot facility, which brought about 100 new jobs.

RockTenn brought 500 jobs to Norcross last year after it acquired a competitor. RockTenn, a paper product and cardboard manufacturer, received $15.7 million in incentives from the state and Gwinnett County, and $700,000 from the city of Norcross.

Johnson said if the addition of solar cell manufacturer Suniva in 2008 is included, it gives the city a diverse collection of businesses recently.

"When you take those four businesses alone, any city in the nation would love to have that," Johnson said. "It adds to a diverse commerce, which keeps it healthy."