MANKATO — For nearly eight years the question about a new Wal-Mart distribution center in Mankato was “when?”
Now that the world’s largest retailer has announced it will build the center and open it in late 2015, local leaders speculated on the project’s impact.
For starters, the project will be a boon for contractors and construction workers during what is expected to be a 12- to 16-month construction schedule.
The massive center also is expected to create spin-off development, help housing sales, potentially pull employees from other local manufacturers, and create an uptick in wages for some jobs locally.
Once open, the center will employ 300 people.
Brent Pearson, a Mankato-based regional analyst for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, said the jobs will add about 10-15 percent to the current number of jobs in the “transportation and warehousing” sector in the region.
“Those types of occupations tend to pay higher than the median wage for all occupations across our region.”
Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges said that based on studies and research the city has done, he expects Wal-Mart will bring strongly competitive pay for employees and will spur initial creation of businesses that cater to truck drivers and provide related warehousing and pallet services.
“What we learned is they will come into the marketplace and potentially offer wages to get the best and the brightest. Anecdotally, we saw that their employees tend to be longtime employees, so their wages and benefits must be competitive,” Hentges said.
“The other thing we hear is that there could be 20 or more managers that come from other locations. They offer opportunities from within.”
As for spin-off development, Hentges said he doesn’t expect an immediate explosion in building, but he said there are people interested in developing projects near the site.