Week of February 24, 2003
  Blockbuster Deal
   from Site Selection's exclusive New Plant database
Poinciana Industrial Park III
Lowe's picked a 150-acre (60-hectare) site in the 700-acre (280-hectare) Poinciana Industrial Park III (pictured), developed by Avatar Properties, an arm of Coral Gables, Fla.-based Avatar Holdings.
Lowe's 600-Job, $73M Distribution Center Goes
to Osceola County, Fla.
by JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing KISSIMMEE, Fla. – Ending a two-year location search that included more than 100 contending areas, Lowe's Home Improvement (www.lowes.com) has picked a site in Osceola County, Fla., (www.osceola.org) for its 10th U.S. regional distribution center.
        The projected dimensions of the facility are a match for the lengthy list of suitors that eagerly contended for it: The US$73-million, 600-employee distribution center will span 1.3 million sq. ft. (117,000 sq. m.) – the equivalent of 28 U.S. football fields under a single roof.
"Vigorous coordination by the Osceola County Economic Development Department" was one key element in landing the project, said Osceola County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Paul Owen (pictured).

        "Osceola County's great local work ethic and vigorous coordination by the Osceola County Economic Development Department, combined with the overwhelming community and partner support, lead to our success," Osceola County Board of County Commissioners Chairman Paul Owen said at the project announcement in Kissimmee, the county seat, which sits some 10 miles (16 kilometers) north of the site that Lowe's chose.

Once Out of the Running,
Osceola's Persistence Paid Off

For Osceola County, though, the Lowe's center almost ended up as the proverbial big fish that got away. That's when the "vigorous coordination" became a crucial element in the mix. The county successfully made the final short list of three sites still in contention for the center, which will serve Lowe's stores in Florida and Georgia.
        Local prospects, though, then began looking dim. A member of Lowe's site-selection team called the county to inform it that the company had decided to go with another site, county officials revealed after Osceola had landed the project. (Lowe's officials didn't disclose any other contending sites during the project announcement.)
        Undaunted, Osceola officials kept lobbying for the project. Economic Development Director Maria Grulich continued to call Lowe's officials. The Osceola area, Grulich reminded them, had a major plus in its proximity to I-4 and U.S. Highway 27, which, respectively, are the state's principal east-west and north-south routes.
Osceola County Courthouse
Lowe's distribution center will be located 10 miles (16 kilometers) south of Kissimmee (pictured: the county courthouse, built in 1900 and listed on the National Historic Register). Despite the project's location outside its borders, the city decided that the positive employment impact on Kissimmee merited a $300,000 contribution to the incentive package for the center.

        Grulich's persistence on the horn paid off. Her calls ultimately rekindled Lowe's interest in the area. The site-selection team came for another visit, and county officials spent a day ferrying the team around to rural sites.
        And the team found a site that, they decided, perfectly fit the bill: a 150-acre (60-hectare) former sod farm in Poinciana Industrial Park III. (www.avatarproperties.com).
        "We are very pleased to be building our newest regional distribution center in such a great location and look forward to bringing this major investment and hundreds of new jobs to Osceola County," Lowe's Senior Vice President of Distribution Lee Herring explained at the project announcement.

Pay 15% Above Area Average

And those new jobs mark an economic upgrade for the area.
        The Lowe's center's 600 jobs will pay at least $26,104 a year, Herring said. That's 15 percent above the average level in Osceola County, which has the lowest wages in the area.
        In addition, Lowe's mega-project will likely spur other companies' interest in the area around the distribution center. Another undisclosed firm, in fact, called the day after Lowe's announced its site in Osceola County, county officials reported. The company inquired about the availability of land near the Lowe's center. That project, if it materializes, will generate another 100 jobs, county officials said.
        "This is an outstanding project for Florida and is the continuation of an already great partnership with Lowe's," Gov. Jeb Bush said at the project announcement.
        Osceola County already had an existing partnership with Lowe's. The distribution center announcement came only a few days after the company opened a Lowe's Home Improvement store in Kissimmee.

Incentives Could Top $5 Million

A broad array of agencies and organizations coordinated to land the distribution center. "What really won them over," said Owen, "was the governor's office, Enterprise Florida (www.eflorida.com), the city of Kissimmee, Progress Energy, Avatar Properties (the owner of Poinciana Industrial Park III) and the many members of the I Do Team working together."
        That togetherness carried over to the incentive package supporting the project. The package includes:
  • County support of $1.06 million toward impact and permitting fees, plus another $360,000 if Lowe's meets its projections of 600 jobs at $26,104 a year.
  • State funding of $1.4 million if Lowe's meets its job and income goals, plus another $2 million toward widening a road leading to the site.
  • City support of $300,000 for road upgrades to the site.
  • Progress Energy (at www.progress-energy.com and formerly known as Florida Power) funding for $75,000 for road upgrades to the site.
        Lowe's will begin construction on the center later this year. The facility, which will include five miles (eight kilometers) of conveyor belts, will take a year and a half to build, company officials said.
        Once completed, the facility will serve 120 Lowe's stores in Florida and Georgia.

bd0224bbd0224b ©2003 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.