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Business Wal-Mart eyes second Fort Worth e-commerce center

Wal-Mart eyes second Fort Worth e-commerce center

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

A. Lee Graham Reporter   Wal-Mart’s Fort Worth incursion shows no signs of slowing, as the retail giant considers 57 acres near Fort Worth Alliance Airport as the site for its second Cowtown e-commerce fulfillment center.   “We are very keen to bring this project forward to you,” said Robert Sturns, the city’s domestic and international business recruitment manager.   Speaking at the pre-council portion of the Nov. 19 regular City Council meeting, Sturns outlined tax incentives intended to lure the company to the Alliance Crossing parcel just east of Interstate 35W and Hillwood’s AllianceTexas mixed-use development.   With the retail giant expecting to exceed $9 billion in online sales this year, the company has prioritized developing what it calls a “next-generation fulfillment network” to accommodate online sales. Product inventory on company website walmart.com grew 35 percent to 40 percent to 2 million items in 2012, with the company requiring bricks-and-mortar fulfillment centers to handle inventory expected to double this year.   The city affirmed its faith in Wal-Mart’s economic benefits earlier this by agreeing to abate 75 percent, or about $2 million, of city property taxes on the incremental value of a Westport Parkway location in far North Fort Worth and equipment and other items classified as business personal property for 10 years.   The latest proposal would bring Wal-mart.com USA LLC, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., to the Alliance Crossing site through a “380 agreement,” named after Chapter 380 of Texas local government code allowing rebates of future sales or property taxes. Walmart would receive $3 million over the course of the 15-year agreement term, with Fort Worth gaining $1 million.   Unlike a tax abatement – in which the tax liability is reduced on the front end and capped at 10 years by state law – a 380 agreement requires a company to pay the full tax generated while the city provides a grant back to the company worth up to 75 percent of those taxes paid.   The proposed deal would require Wal-Mart to invest $32 million for the build-to-suit building that it would lease, with the greater of 25 percent, or $6,250,000, to be spent each year with Fort Worth companies and an equal amount with Fort Worth minority- and women-owned businesses.   Meanwhile, the company would have to spend the greater of 55 percent, or $16,500 each year, on supplies and services with Fort Worth companies. The company would have to spend of 25 percent of its supplies and services budget, or about $7,500, with Fort Worth minority- and women-owned businesses.   The deal would bode well for local employment, with 80 full-time equivalent positions required to be created by June 30, 2015 and 100 full-time-equivalents by Dec. 31, 2019. At least 40 percent of those would have to be filled by Fort Worth residents, with 5 percent by central city residents.   “This is a big deal,” said District 7 Councilman Dennis Shingleton. “I’m very much in favor of this.”   So is District 5 Councilwoman Gyna Bivens.   “I like what I see. There are some partners we have that just do things right, and this is one of them,” Bivens said.   The council is expected to vote on the proposal at its Dec. 10 regular meeting.   lgraham@bizpress.net          


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