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By: Trevor Anderson, Upstate Business Journal
The Upstate’s inventory of major distribution centers has continued to expand during the past decade. Companies including Adidas, Rite Aid, TechTronic Industries, Dollar Tree, Dollar General and Amazon have nearly reached or well exceeded the 1 million-square-foot mark for facilities that help them ship goods to customers faster and more efficiently. Those projects have produced hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment and thousands of jobs for residents across the region. Local experts said they expect to see the trend continue, driven by population growth, the online shopping boom and companies consolidating existing distribution centers into one massive facility. With a network of highways and major interstates, rail corridors and an inland port connected to the Port of Charleston, commercial real estate owners and investors said the Upstate is well positioned to capitalize on that trend. But another key ingredient in landing those big-box distribution centers will be the availability of sites that can support them.
“Within two days you can reach 70 percent of the nation’s population,” said David Britt, Spartanburg County Councilman and board member of the Economic Futures Group. “We’ve worked so hard with our developers to get sites ready so we’re ready to roll when the companies are here… We’re competing with the Southeast. This is where everyone wants to be.”
The region’s portfolio of large commercial tracts is broad and diverse.
Upstate leaders said the pipeline of potential projects is getting healthier and the mix includes domestic and foreign companies that compete on the global stage.
A good example is the $270 million, five-building distribution complex Greenville-based Michelin North America plans to build on 460 acres in western Spartanburg County. The 3.3 million-square-foot center, which is expected to be fully operational by 2019, will create at least 350 jobs.
Although the project is a win for the region, developers said there aren’t too many companies out there seeking to build centers of that magnitude.
And while there are many properties on the market, developers said only a few have all of the elements site selectors and companies are looking for, including access to interstates, infrastructure, a skilled workforce and utilities, as well as a willing seller.