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Big gets bigger

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  • | 11:00 a.m. August 4, 2017
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Polk County continues to build its case as the distribution center capital of Florida.

The latest proof comes from Walmart, which opened a massive, $150 million, 50-acre campus in Davenport, Polk County, July 18. Near Interstate 4 and U.S. 27, the complex is the sixth Ecommerce Fulfillment Center Campus in the Walmart network and the first in Florida, according to a statement. It features two buildings that span more than 2.2 million square feet. There are already 500 employees working there, and Walmart officials say they plan to hire at least 1,000 more people over the next year.

Like its giant competitor in e-commerce, Amazon, which also has a facility in Polk County, Walmart designed the Davenport facility to be the distribution hub of the future. It will house millions of items there, say company officials. “It is the latest addition to the next-generation fulfillment network Walmart is building to support its rapidly growing e-commerce business,” officials say in the statement.

In addition to Walmart and Amazon, the list of companies with distribution facilities in Polk County includes FedEx, Medline Industries and Rooms-to-Go. Through January, there were some 57 million square feet of industrial space in Polk County, roughly equivalent to the total amount of industrial space in Hernando, Manatee, Pasco and Sarasota counties combined.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Polk County Commission Chairwoman Melony Bell were among the officials who attended the recent Walmart distribution center grand opening. “Walmart has long been a major employer in our community,” Bell says in the release, “and we're grateful for its commitment to continued growth here.”

The fulfillment center is part of a $450 million investment Walmart is making in Florida in 2017-2018. The retail giant, with $13.6 billon in net income in 2016, also received a 10-year tax abatement from Polk County to build the Davenport center.

Some other data nuggets behind the new facility include:

• The size of the complex is equivalent to roughly 20 football fields;

• The multilevel product storage shelving system spans 33 miles of shelving;

• The dock doors can withstand wind speeds of up to 120 miles per hour.


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