UPS plans new Atlanta ground hub with 1,250 jobs

UPS plans a $400 million regional package sorting facility with 1,25 employees — mostly part-time — establishing a Southeast ground hub on the west side of Atlanta.

The 1.2 million square foot facility, announced Thursday, is to be built on Fulton Industrial Boulevard next to the county airport known as Charlie Brown Field. It will be UPS’s third-largest facility in the nation.

Jobs will include everything from loaders to drivers, engineers and managers. About 250 will be full-time, while 1,000 will be part-time positions, UPS said. The facility is expected to be up and running before the holiday shipping season in late 2018.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said it will bring jobs to “one of the most challenged parts of our city.”

“We have so many of these announcements and they’re in parts of the city that are already thriving and doing well,” he said, but the westside is “an area that genuinely needs it.”

UPS chief executive David Abney said “this is a neighborhood where we felt like we could make a difference.”

The location is near the site of the old Bankhead housing projects which were demolished several years ago, said Stan Conway, executive vice president for developer Majestic Realty. “The goal was to use this land and a deal like this to revitalize,” Conway said.

Sandy Springs-based UPS is benefiting from tax incentives on about 10 percent of its investment, according to Abney, amounting to a roughly $40 million benefit from local sales and use tax abatement, new job tax credits and property tax savings.

Conway said the incentives including opportunity zone tax credits, which give a state tax credit of $3,500 per job created. Abney said he also expects the facility to benefit from the just-passed expansion of a Fulton County freeport exemption for e-commerce fulfillment centers’ ad valorem or property taxes on inventory.

Conway said he expects the facility could attract other businesses to the area. A road will be built to an area for additional hangars at the Fulton County Airport, and Majestic will pay for a $1.1 million airport operations maintenance building.

While the new facility will be located next to a general aviation airport, it will be a ground hub with trucks moving in and out, rather than an air hub.

UPS already has three smaller ground hubs in metro Atlanta.

Those facilities will continue operating when the new larger hub opens to move packages through the region that may be just passing through Atlanta from truck to truck or connecting with rail. The only larger UPS facilities are its main air hub in Louisville, Ky., and another hub in Chicago.

The new UPS facility reflects growth in e-commerce, which is driving a huge increase in the number of shipments. About half of the new hub’s volume will be e-commerce packages, according to Abney.

It will be an automated facility that requires fewer workers to handle more packages, and Abney said the building will be “a showcase for UPS customers” to demonstrate new technology.

“From all around the world,” businesses that use UPS for shipping come to the company’s headquarters, he said. UPS will be able to take those visitors to the new ground hub. “It’ll just be a real live demonstration,” Abney said.

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