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FedEx chooses New Haven for $25 million hub

Put a stamp on it. This project is ready to ship.

FedEx Ground Package System Inc. is teaming with a New Haven property owner on a $25 million, state-of-the-art regional distribution center at 11039 Lincoln Highway E.

The vacant 40-acre site is owned by Setzer Properties ZFWY LLC. The landlord has agreed to invest about $12.5 million to construct a 178,000-square-foot warehouse/distribution center.

FedEx, which has a long-term lease on the facility, is planning to invest $12.5 million in new mechanical and electrical equipment.

The international shipping company plans to create 87 part-time jobs at the new distribution center. The most common position, package handler, will pay $11.31 an hour, according to a tax abatement filing. Plans call for 82 of those jobs.

The shipping giant already employs 34 full-time, four temporary and 69 part-time workers in New Haven. They will be moved into the new building when it is completed in September 2014. Construction is to begin May 1.

FedEx is asking Allen County officials for a tax break on the project. Savings could total $1.5 million over five years.

David Westrick, a FedEx Ground spokesman, demurred from confirming the project, saying that “as a matter of policy, we don’t have further information on specific proposals under consideration.”

However, a FedEx official wrote in a filing with the county that most packages handled at the distribution centers will be long-distance shipments from customers outside the county.

Mayor Terry McDonald said New Haven’s east side hasn’t seen much growth in recent years.

“This will help to jump-start that area with other development,” he said.

Beth Stauffer, a New Haven resident who is on the Canal Days Festival board of directors, was excited Friday afternoon to learn about the project.

“That’s a significant amount of money,” she said of the investment.

Stauffer said recent infrastructure investments such as the Fort-to-Port project and the Maplecrest Road extension have helped area businesses thrive, including Do it Best Corp.’s distribution operation.

Manufacturing and logistics combine to employ one in four Hoosiers.

“Logistics” refers to warehouse and shipping operations, such as the $70 million distribution center that Family Dollar Stores Inc. recently built in Ashley, creating 350 jobs, and the $36 million distribution center General Mills built near Fort Wayne International Airport, creating 65 jobs.