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Lancaster County gets Nordstrom’s East Coast fulfillment center with $79M investment, hundreds of jobs

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Lancaster County gets Nordstrom’s East Coast fulfillment center with $79M investment, hundreds of jobs
Intelligencer Journal
Lancaster New Era
Originally Published Jan 21, 2014 14:07
Staff Writer

The rumors were true.

Fashion retailer Nordstrom Inc. officially announced Tuesday that it will build a massive e-commerce and catalog fulfillment center in West Donegal Township, just outside Elizabethtown.

The Seattle-based company is investing $79 million and has committed to creating at least 369 new full-time jobs at the site within three years, Gov. Tom Corbett said in a statement.

Nordstrom said it expects to hire up to 700 full-time workers or more “as the business continues to grow.”

“E-commerce is the fastest growing area of our business,” Jamie Nordstrom, president of Nordstrom Direct, said in a statement. “This is an ideal location to add to our fulfillment capabilities and improve the delivery experience for our customers.”

The facility will consist of a 672,000-square-foot main building with a 470,000-square-foot mezzanine, or 1.14 million square feet total. It is coming to a 92-acre site in Conewago Industrial Park.

“It’s a fantastic thing to have a company like Nordstrom in our park,” Martin Murray, who co-owns the park with his brother, William, told Lancaster Newspapers.

Site work began this week, and opening is planned for summer 2015, officials said.

The general contractor is H&M Co. Inc., a Tennessee design-build firm that specializes in industrial and distribution facilities.

“Local subcontractors are encouraged to bid on the project,” H&M spokeswoman Lori Brown said.

The fulfillment center will be Nordstrom’s third: Its existing sites are in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and San Bernardino, Calif.

The company operates 261 stores in 35 states. Its yearly revenue is about $12.5 billion.

Lancaster Newspapers first reported in September that Nordstrom was considering the Conewago property. The retailer neither confirmed nor denied it publicly until Tuesday.

Local and state officials offered Nordstrom sizable financial incentives to locate here.

The state Department of Community and Economic Development provided three subsidies with a combined value of nearly $2.4 million:

n A $166,050 Guaranteed Free Training grant for workforce training.

n A $1.1 million Pennsylvania First grant for investment and job creation.

n $1.1 million in job creation tax credits.

On the local level, the county, Elizabethtown Area School District and West Donegal Township voted to make the site a Local Economic Revitalization Tax Assistance zone.

LERTA gives a 10-year break on property taxes to improvements, such as buildings, on a site. The existing tax on the land remains unchanged.

Over time, as the LERTA matures, Nordstrom’s buildings will come fully onto the tax rolls, county commissioner Scott Martin said.

The addition of Nordstrom doubles the number of jobs at Conewago Industrial Park, Murray said.

The park has 24 tenants, he said. The two largest employers are DAS Distributors, with 175 employees, and American Air Filter, 115 employees.

Nordstrom chose the Lancaster County site after evaluating potential locations in Franklin, Lebanon and York counties, said David Nikoloff, president of the nonprofit Economic Development Co. of Lancaster County.

The company also may have been looking at sites in Maryland, he said.

State Rep. Dave Hickernell, whose district includes the township, said he helped arrange a dialogue between government and company officials last summer.

Eventually, that led to the LERTA, he said.

“This is a great example of state, local and county government coming together to work with a business to create jobs,” he said.

Getting the LERTA zone ratified was essential, Murray said.

“They wanted to know that (was in place) before they selected us,” he said.

Nordstrom is one of two national retailers building an e-commerce fulfillment center in Lancaster County.

In the eastern part of the county, near Gap, Urban Outfitters is doing site work for a 1.2 million-square-foot project. It, too, is slated to open in summer 2015. It will employ about 500 people. c

Both e-commerce centers will be comparable in size to the Park City Center complex, which is 1.44 million square feet, including the outbuildings.

Many of the same officials were involved in securing both projects, Nikoloff said. Thanks to their experience with Urban Outfitters, they were up to speed right away when the Nordstrom opportunity arose, he said.

Murray said he has been marketing the Nordstorm site for a decade.

Among other things, he went to the effort of securing preliminary conceptual and environmental approvals ahead of time; that is, before having a prospective tenant.

That was important, because those approvals can take years and Nordstrom was in a hurry, he said.

Had those steps not been taken ahead of time, “they would not have looked at our site,” he said.

But they did. And Murray is delighted.

“It needed just the right user,” he said. “Nordstrom is just the right user.”

Courtesy of Lancaster Online. Read the full article here:

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