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“Rabbit” picks Rowan; Macy’s announces largest economic development project in county history

Distribution center will have 2800 jobs, $584.3 million investment
The company says it will produce 2,800 full-time jobs by the end of 2028, as well as another 2,000 part-time or seasonal positions.
Published: Mar. 31, 2022 at 1:33 PM EDT
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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Local leaders in Rowan County were very hopeful that this “rabbit” wouldn’t run, but would instead find a home near China Grove. “Project Rabbit” was the codename used to describe a massive economic development project commissioners and officials worked to lure to the area.

On Thursday, they announced that their efforts were successful and that the rabbit is Macy’s. Macy’s is one of the most revered names in American retail. The chain was founded in New York City in 1858.

“We are excited to expand our supply chain into the great state of North Carolina and become a member of the China Grove community, as we continue to build and invest in our omnichannel retail ecosystem,” said Jodi Buhrman, vice president of process and engineering at Macy’s, Inc. “This new state-of-the-art facility will further enable us to serve our valued customers with added speed and efficiency and position us for long-term success as a leading omnichannel retailer. We look forward to bringing new, well-paying jobs and opportunities to the China Grove community when this new fulfillment center opens in 2024.”

The project, a 1.4 million square foot distribution center for Macy’s, would create 2,800 full-time jobs by the end of 2028. The company also is planning to create more than 2,000 seasonal part-time jobs. The investment would be over $584 million in new construction and equipment.

“This is a historic day for the Town of China Grove and we would like to welcome Macy’s, Inc. to come grow with us,” said China Grove Mayor Charles Seaford. “Like China Grove, Macy’s, Inc. is an original. Through teamwork and partnership, we can both thrive and become stronger together.”

“We couldn’t be more honored and excited to welcome an iconic company like Macy’s, Inc. into Rowan County, and we look forward to supporting them in their continued growth in the years to come,” said Rowan County Commission Chairman Greg Edds. “We’re especially proud that this is the largest job creation announcement in our county history. The future of Rowan County has never been brighter.”

At the Candy Shoppe on Main in China Grove, manager Susan Forbes welcomed the news. “Anything that can bring economic development into the community would be beneficial and it would definitely help a lot of our small businesses hopefully be able to keep their heads up as well,” Forbes said.

Macy’s Inc. comprises three retail brands: Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Bluemercury. In total, Macy’s Inc. operates more than 600 stores across the country, while also adding to its now-booming e-commerce success.

“We are delighted to welcome Macy’s, Inc. and its state-of-the-art facility to North Carolina,” said Governor Cooper. “When you combine our robust transportation network with our skilled workforce and great quality of life, economic development wins like these will continue to be celebrated statewide.”

To support Macy’s, Inc.’s digital omnichannel strategy, the China Grove Fulfillment Center will account for nearly 30% of Macy’s, Inc.’s digital supply chain capacity once fully operational. The fulfillment center will have some manual processes while including full automation for receiving, prep, put-away, picking and packing functions that will allow Macy’s, Inc. to improve delivery times for customers.

Rowan EDC President Rod Crider praised Macy’s, Inc.’s reputation and expressed his gratitude for their expansion. “Macy’s, Inc.’s expansion into Rowan County is a culmination of the hard work to improve our economic competitiveness by our partners across the county. To bring one of the most well-recognized brands in the country to Rowan County is a tremendous honor and we’ve enjoyed getting to work closely with their team the past few months. The Rowan EDC looks forward to a continued partnership as we welcome Macy’s, Inc. into Rowan. With more than 10 million square feet of industrial space under development along the I-85 corridor, this project win is a sign that Rowan has arrived on the national scene and that there are more big things to come.”

The Rowan County Board of Commissioners endorsed the project by awarding the company an Economic Development Investment Grant, a performance-based incentive requiring the company to meet predetermined employment goals before incentives are paid, worth an estimated $27.2 million over 15 years. The Town of China Grove also supported the project with a performance-based Economic Development Investment Grant worth an estimated $22.4 million over 15 years.

The state of North Carolina also supported the project with a Job Development Investment Grant with an estimated value of $2.3 million, along with a substantial commitment in customized training dollars through the NC Community College System. The North Carolina Department of Transportation will also provide funding for road improvements along Highway 152.

“We are delighted to welcome Macy’s and its state-of-the-art facility to North Carolina,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “When you combine our robust transportation network with our skilled workforce and great quality of life, economic development wins like these will continue to be celebrated statewide.”

“When companies want to expand their operations and reach customers faster, North Carolina is always a top choice,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “In addition to an inclusive workforce training system to help increase resiliency, North Carolina boasts a prime location that places iconic brands within a day’s drive of more than 170 million customers, alleviating supply chain issues and helping them maintain a continuity of operations.”

Scott Shelton, vice president of the Rowan EDC, provided project management leadership during the months-long process to gain Macy’s, Inc.’s investment in Rowan County. “Securing Macy’s Inc.’s investment for China Grove and Rowan County was a true team effort,” Shelton said. “We want to thank the China Grove Town Council, the Rowan County Board of Commissioners, KMK Consulting, Senator Carl Ford, Representative Harry Warren, Avison Young, the Silverman Group, the NC Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Partnership of NC, the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance, the NC Department of Transportation, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, the Centralina Workforce Development Board, NCWorks, Duke Energy, Dominion Energy, and Salisbury-Rowan Utilities for their assistance. We are excited to celebrate Macy’s, Inc.’s continued growth nationwide and the location of this new facility that will bring thousands of additional good jobs to our community.”

Analysis from JobsEQ showed that adding Macy’s, Inc. into the community would also add more than 600 indirect and induced jobs, more than $75 million in sales and over $30 million in compensation. Those totals are created by companies supplying goods or services to a new company, as well as revenues created by new employees spending at local restaurants, stores and elsewhere in the community.

A formal groundbreaking ceremony will be held at a later date.

The Rowan EDC contributed to this story.

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