Wal-Mart Distribution Center Planned for Merced

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Wal-Mart executives went to Merced on Thursday to talk about plans to open up a distribution center.

The massive warehouse would create more than 600 new jobs and is scheduled to open in 2008.

Wal-Mart has been working on bringing the distribution center to Merced for the last four years, but Thursday for the first time, they shared their plans with the public.

Wal-Mart executives say they chose Merced over 170 other cities in California to build a one million square foot distribution center.

"Great site, great people, good labor force, and I think there is a need for these types of jobs in this community," said Colby Tanner, from Wal-Mart.

The distribution center that is set to be built on a plot of land in Southeast Merced will initially create 600 new jobs.

"If we are roughly paying $13 to $14 dollars an hour to start for 600 positions, which is what we expect to be the case," said Keith Morris, from Wal-Mart. "That's $17 million in annual payroll."

The city has been working to lure Wal-Mart to Merced for the last four years.

"We do believe that the community is in need of economic development, it's in need of job creation and this is a project that will do that," said Frank Quintero, from the city of Merced.

Although the project is still in the planning phases and an environmental impact report still needs to be complete, there is already been some opposition.

People are concerned about pollution and noise caused by the 900 truck trips expected everyday, but Wal-Mart says that's nothing new.

"Everything that we have heard that has come up has been something we have addressed for facilities like this in other locations. Nothing new that we wouldn't expect to address here that we haven't addressed in other communities."

The distribution center will be linked to Highway 99 by the New Mission Interchange and Campus Parkway Highway projects that are currently in the works.

The closest distribution center to Merced is in Porterville, about 120 miles south.

Executives say the new center will serve about 50 Wal-Mart retail stores in the area.

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