Kokomo received its first jobs announcement of the year a few weeks ago when FedEx Ground said they were expanding their existing operations.

FedEx Ground announced that they are moving forward on a new $5 million, 63,000-square foot distribution center in Kokomo.

This investment will guarantee employment for the 20 employees they already employ in Kokomo, and the facility will allow them to add 12 new positions. The proposed site for the facility is in the Haynes High-Tech Industrial Park on the north side of Kokomo.

Representatives from Fed Ex Ground were at last Monday’s Kokomo Common Council meeting to talk about the expansion.

“I would like to thank you and the city for your continued support over the project,” said Ziya Hajiyev. “We were here about two and a half years ago for this project and unfortunately the recession prevented the project form moving forward then. We are back now and this is a $5-6 million project to build a 63,000 square foot distribution center. The center will be built to offer future expansion to approximately 74,000 square feet. The company will retain 20 full-time equivalent jobs in the community and create approximately 12 in addition to that. If everything goes according to plan we hope that the construction will begin sometime in May of 2011 and the company will be operating at the new facility in the summer of 2012.”

Mayor Greg Goodnight was excited about the expansion.

“The big thing is it retains 20 jobs and adds 12,” said Goodnight. “It is the investment of a multi-national corporation. All of these things in and of themselves might not seem significant but I think it is another step in the right direction. These are non-automotive with a Fortune 500 company and they have faith in the local economy. There is nothing that said they had to build it here in Kokomo.”

Goodnight said there was a chance the company was going to leave Kokomo.

“I talked to them about it and they were looking at other areas in this part of the state,” said Goodnight.

He said the new US 31 bypass probably played some role in the company staying.

“I don’t think there is anybody that doesn’t think that we shouldn’t have done something to the bypass whether it was build a new one or make serious upgrades and limit the access to the current one,” said Goodnight. “I am sure it is a big part of their decision making. It is easier to get around.”

Goodnight said he hopes people are excited about the announcement.

“It is competitive out there,” said Goodnight. “There are not a lot of huge announcements. It is well over $5 million in announcements over a short period time. A lot of time the distribution centers aren’t a huge number of jobs, but what it is the investment and the activity around them. They often fuel other investments.”

Tim Turner