The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 17, 2013

Progress 2013: How the Wal-Mart distribution center will boost area

(Continued)

MANKATO —

“Truck support seems to be a big interest — trucks stops, truck repairs. You also see pallet operations that spring up around them and ancillary warehousing operations.”

A study in Yakima, Wash., last year found employees at a Wal-Mart distribution center there made an average of $18 an hour.

A detailed 2004 study by the Planning Commission of St. James, Mo., found the opening of a distribution center there led to other big manufacturers in the area losing about 5 percent of their employees to Wal-Mart. And the opening of the Wal-Mart facility caused overall wages for similar positions to tick up.

The study showed there was negligible population increase after the opening of the center, but there was a large increase in the number of people working in the city. That created a sizable increase in spending in the community.

Jonathan Zierdt, president & CEO of Greater Mankato Growth, said the project will give local housing a bump.

“Wal-Mart will move a number of people here just for start-up and for their expertise. Some will be temporary and some will be long term.

“And they’ll hire 300 people. Some will be from the region, but others may come from farther, Owatonna or the Twin Cities or wherever,” Zierdt said.

And having a company whose revenue would place it on par with the 25th largest economy in the world is a big boost in itself.

“There is something about having a presence from an international company like Wal-Mart. This helps establish us a a destination for business,” he said.

Wal-Mart purchased land on the northeast edge of Mankato in 2005 and originally planned to open a distribution center in 2008 — a plan that got delayed because of the recession. The original plan called for a center of more than 800,000 square feet that would be divided between dry storage and a refrigerated storage building for fresh produce and other grocery items.

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