FedEx Ground photo
FedEx Ground is delivering on its promise to build a 400,000 sq. ft. (37,161 sq m) regional distribution hub on a 150-acre site in Florida.
FedEx Ground is delivering on its promise to build a 400,000 sq. ft. (37,161 sq m) regional distribution hub on a 150-acre site in Florida. The facility, currently under construction, is located at the Ocala/Marion County Commerce Park, and is already making headlines.
“The construction of this new hub represents the strong partnership between the Ocala community and FedEx Ground, job opportunities for the great workforce in the area and the continued growth of FedEx Ground,” said Bob Holcombe, FedEx Ground regional vice president. “In just the past five years, FedEx Ground has invested $3 billion for growth and network expansion, which includes this new hub and a 300,000-square-foot facility under construction in Davenport, Florida, just south of Orlando.”
The Ocala hub will be part of the FedEx Ground network of more than 560 facilities. In the last decade, FedEx Ground’s volume has doubled. Officials have opened almost a dozen new hubs and expanded or relocated more than 500 local facilities due to the growth. The fully automated hub in Ocala will help boost daily package volume capacity and improve the speed and service capabilities of the FedEx Ground network.
Expected to open in August 2016, the hub’s processing rate will be 15,000 packages per hour, processing 45,000 per hour, if fully expanded. The company recently purchased an additional 27 acres for future growth.
“Having FedEx Ground’s regional distribution hub in Ocala is a big deal, because FedEx is making a significant capital investment in our community and is creating much needed jobs,” said Melanie Gaboardi, the city of Ocala’s director of revitalization strategies. “Prior to the development of the business park, a shovel-ready site of this size and location did not exist. This project signals to everyone that Ocala is a prime location for the logistics and distribution industry sector, and the community is gaining additional national attention because of this project.
“The development of the business park was made possible by public/private partnerships among the city of Ocala, Marion County and Ocala 489, LLC,” Gaboardi said. “The site is an excellent location because Ocala, Florida is ideally located halfway between Atlanta and Miami, halfway between Jacksonville and Tampa, and midway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Port of Citrus on the Gulf of Mexico. The park is adjacent to and visible from I-75 which is the main transportation corridor running north/south through the center of the state of Florida. The site has easy access to U.S. 27, U.S. 441/301 and SR 40.”
The company is using local companies and local labor to construct the facility, which comes at a crucial time.
At the height of the recession, Ocala/Marion County suffered 45 straight months of double-digit unemployment, peaking at 14.1 percent, one of the highest unemployment levels experienced in the nation.
“Watching the building take shape provides a renewed sense of hope and pride for our community,” said Gaboardi.
“The development of the business park included construction of two four-lane divided roads and required the relocation of existing utilities including a high-pressure natural gas line owned by Florida Gas Transmission Company, a 230 KV electric transmission line inherited by the city and a reclaimed water line, also owned by the city. This project wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation and foresight our leaders had in 2011 to identify the site as a then future business park and to sign a tri-party agreement to ensure the development of the park which has ultimately lead to the project’s recent success.”
Due to the geologic conditions in the region, Geotechnical & Environmental Consultants Inc. of Orlando conducted a ground penetrating radar (GPR) study as part of the geotechnical engineering investigation for the design and construction of the FedEx facilities. The purpose of the study was to determine potential problematic soil conditions within the building footprints. GEC provided the final geotechnical engineering recommendations for the project, including building foundation recommendations to lessen the risk of future sinkhole activity, and procedures to deal with any sinkholes that might surface during construction.
Skanska is serving as general contractor on the project, which requires moving more than one million cu. yds. of dirt. Equipment on site includes rough terrain cranes, forklifts, retractable skyhooks, scissor lifts, motorgraders, dump trucks and backhoes. Materials used to construct the new distribution center include a pre-engineered metal building, structural concrete, lime rock base, asphalt pavement and concrete curbs.
“I’m amazed every time I drive by the facility at how much progress is being made now,” said Kevin Sheilley, president and CEO, Ocala/Marion county chamber and economic partnership. “We are out by the site regularly with clients interested in either locating near the facility or just wanting to see the huge construction site.”
The project has already received a great deal of attention from the media.
“It’s weekly, and I imagine it will soon become daily,” said Sheilley. “We receive phone calls from companies, consultants and visitors passing on I-75 inquiring about the massive construction site along the interstate. That’s publicity and awareness we could never afford to purchase.
“In addition to the jobs and investment, we believe the Ocala Metro area is situated to be a top logistics center, and the presence of FedEx really substantiates that belief. The ground hub is a key part of the our logistical center foundation.”
As far as the economic impact on the region, Sheilley said the $170 million capital investment makes it one of the largest projects in central Florida. Additionally, the investment represents the first phase of a multi-phase investment.
“We know other companies will want to be here because FedEx has done the work to determine it is a key location for distribution. We believe there are probably two dozen companies who will need to locate a facility here or expand existing facilities just to service this hub. Those companies along with ones who want to locate near the hub will represent a significant economic impact.
“This community was hit hard by the Great Recession, and FedEx represented the moment our community really began the process of recovery. This investment by a well-known international company really brought a sense of hope and optimism.”
Sheilley said the area had to have shovel-ready sites ready for companies who wanted to invest.
“The Ocala/Marion County Commerce Park represents a unique solution to this issue with the city of Ocala and Marion County partnering with a developer, Ocala 489, to build and prepare this incredible site. Hands down, it’s the best industrial site in the state of Florida.
“CSX has designated a site adjacent to FedEx in the park as the first and only CSX select site in the state.
“The interstate, the FedEx facility and now the CSX designation truly set this park and this community as the center of logistics in Florida,” said Sheilley.
“FedEx is the epitome of logistics know-how. We think the investment by FedEx will cause a lot of companies to take a first look, and we believe once they see this community, review our opportunities and run the return on investment, a second look will be to finalize the decision to locate here.”
FedEx recently announced it would be creating 350 jobs as a result of the project. FedEx agreed to capital investments of approximately $123 million to include value of property acquisition, building improvements, machinery and equipment. The city and county shared in the cost of the infrastructure improvements valued at approximately $25 million, which included a $2.15 million roadway infrastructure grant from FDOT.
Gov. Rick Scott applauded FedEx Ground’s decision to grow in Ocala and create more jobs.
“I knew when I toured the location in the spring of 2013 that Ocala would be the perfect fit for FedEx Ground, and we continued working hard to help deliver this win for area families. Florida has added more than 715,000 private-sector jobs since December 2010, and the state unemployment rate has fallen to 5.8 percent. We will keep working to create a job for every Floridian who wants one.”
According to Hall Robertson, managing member of Robertson Development Consulting LLC, “FedEx is the number one logistics company in the country, and this is the number one logistics location in Florida. It’s great to see this project become a reality. The community came together and made it happen.”
As for why this is an exciting project for the community, said Robertson, “In a word, jobs — and the knowledge that Ocala is the right location for companies to locate.”
With more than 64,000 employees and 42,000 motorized vehicles, FedEx Ground transports roughly six million packages daily. The company reported annual revenue of $11.6 billion in fiscal year 2014.