Chewy facility’s economic impact expected to bring more than direct jobs

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 1, 2019

SALISBURY — The Chewy fulfillment center on Long Ferry Road is still early in its construction, but the facility’s economic impact is expected to bring more jobs from the online pet product retailer.

The scale of Chewy’s under-construction fulfillment center on Long Ferry Road, for example, is large enough that Chandler Concrete has set up a new, temporary plant to service the site.

Brian Brady, who works for Chandler Concrete, put the project into perspective by saying it would require 25,000 to 30,000 cubic yards of concrete. And, by comparison, Chandler’s permanent facility on Long Street in Salisbury creates 40,000 cubic yards of concrete in a good year.

“This one job will do about 75% of what our standalone plant will do in one year,” he said.

There will be six to seven Chandler Concrete trucks assigned to the temporary plant, too.

Each slab of concrete will require multiple concrete pours. Then, concrete slabs will be raised with a crane and fastened together to create “a huge concrete building, basically,” Brady said.

“Something of this magnitude is really huge for the county and the city,” said Brady, who lives in Salisbury. “To be a part of a project like this is very exciting for us.”

And, with a project as large as the fulfillment center — its tax value is estimated at $59.37 million — Chandler Concrete is one of the contractors, including some local ones, working at the site at any one time. It’s just the first part of the economic impact that the facility is expected to have on Rowan County and an example of what’s seen as a continually improving economy in the region.

The Chewy fulfillment center is expected to create more than 1,200 direct jobs. And the Rowan County Economic Development uses a formula to calculate how many indirect jobs the facility will create.

Rowan EDC Vice President Scott Shelton said the organization uses a formula from the economic policy institute to calculate indirect jobs. The latest version of that formula says 276 indirect jobs are created for every 100 direct jobs in the transportation and warehousing industry. That means, if the formula holds true, Chewy’s fulfillment center would create more than 3,300 indirect jobs. Shelton said that’s an all-inclusive number — everything from construction to convenience store workers.

Based in Cabarrus County, Faulconer Construction is among the companies working on site — doing work on fine grading, the widening of Long Ferry Road and utilities that will be connected to the site — said Fred Herman, of Faulconer. He said Faulconer plans to source its material locally, including from Martin Marietta, which supplies aggregates and heavy building materials and has facilities in Rowan County.

“This is certainly a large project,” Herman said. “And these sorts of projects have a direct impact on the local market.”

That’s particularly true when there are back-to-back projects of the size of Chewy in the region. Chandler’s temporary plant, for example, was providing concrete for an Amazon fulfillment center before being moved to Long Ferry Road. And Brady said large fulfillment centers and speculative buildings are “popping up a lot,” in the Charlotte and Piedmont-Triad region.

“These large, speculative buildings are hot,” he said.

Because of that, it’s a good time to be in the construction business, Herman said.

“The housing market used to drive this industry and then the housing market collapsed after the recession,” he said. “Now we’re seeing commercial and industrial projects that are really helping the construction business.”

That means business for companies like Chandler Concrete and Faulconer Construction, but it also means the creation of indirect jobs from facilities like Chewy’s, scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2020.

“As we grow and take on more jobs and bigger jobs, we hire more permanent field staff, more equipment managers, more field operators and more people in general,” he said.

And even when the developers or contractors aren’t local, perhaps adding employees locally, there’s another upside, Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds said.

“Those guys are down here and bringing their whole development team with them,” Edds said. So, you know, they are spending money in hotels and in restaurants and that’s the same thing for the builders, which are buying as much local stuff as possible … It’s a $50 million dollar project and a lot of money is being spent locally.”