leaders greeted a company being seen as a bellwether for growth in Panama
City’s future as a distribution hub Tuesday afternoon.
FedEx Ground, a leader in small-package ground delivery, opened
a nearly 60,000-square-foot package distribution facility on the Port Panama
City Intermodal Park with an audience of several prominent officials.
“Twenty years ago we didn’t know what distribution meant in
Panama City — we’re at the end of U.S. 231,” said Rep. Jimmy Patronis. “Now we
have this incredible opportunity where products, goods and services are going
to find their way here and then populate other people’s houses and businesses.”
The initial opening will bring about 30 direct employees of
FedEx and move about 3,800 packages a day, ramping up to about 6,000 packages
closer to the Christmas holidays. One “feed-line” of conveyors will not be in
use initially, but FedEx expects about 11 percent growth each year, according
to Ron Lewis, managing director.
“We have capacity for the next 10-plus years,” Lewis said.
“We’re building to be a part of the future out here.”
Lewis said besides the 30 employees who will work directly at
the new facility, FedEx will be hiring about 40 additional workers at other
locations to help service the distribution plant, including drivers and clerks.
Those opportunities bring the job number closer to 70, and that number, too, is
anticipated to increase.
grow so does the pool of people needed,” Lewis said. “We’ve got a great group
of quality people from Panama City here, and we absolutely focus on retaining
talent inside our company.”
Meanwhile, a fleet of backhoes and dozers grazed in the
distance, clearing and leveling plots of land adjacent to the FedEx facility on
the Intermodal Park’s grounds.
“Having the FedEx brand is like a huge stamp of approval for
this development,” said Wayne Stubbs, port director. “It’s already bringing a
lot of additional attention to our park and a lot of credibility to our plans
to develop more distribution warehouses.”
Stubbs said several well-known companies have expressed
different levels of interest in the site, though he would not name names.
Simply having the FedEx name to throw out during negotiations gives the park an
edge over competing locations, he said.
“When you bring somebody up here to see a warehouse and they see
FedEx Ground next to it, it makes a big statement,” Stubbs said.
The Bay Line railroad being in the same neighborhood does not
At capacity, the distribution facility will be able to process
about 3,000 packages an hour with the two closest FedEx centers comparable in
size and volume located in Atlanta and Jacksonville, according to FedEx
“It brings a different sense of credibility now that Panama
City is going to have when it goes to negotiate other opportunities of folks
who want to consider the area,” Patronis said. “We’re going drop the name of
FedEx a lot when it comes to people considering Bay County as a place to live,
work and do business.”