Target plans growth

Published 10:08 pm Wednesday, April 29, 2015

 Target on Wednesday announced a $50 million expansion to its Manning Bridge Road distribution center. A company spokesman said all of the work will take place indoors and will not disrupt operations.

Target on Wednesday announced a $50 million expansion to its Manning Bridge Road distribution center. A company spokesman said all of the work will take place indoors and will not disrupt operations.

A $50 million expansion of Target’s Suffolk distribution center will bring at least 168 new jobs to the city, company officials have said.

Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced the expansion in a press release Wednesday morning.

“I am thrilled to announce Target Corporation’s significant investment in the city of Suffolk,” McAuliffe stated in the release. “Helping our existing businesses grow and create new jobs is critical as we work to build a new Virginia economy. Target’s expansion is a testament to the commonwealth’s assets, including a strong workforce, pro-business climate, and access to global markets via the Port of Virginia.”

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The press release stated the expansion would create “hundreds of new jobs.”

Eddie Baeb, a Target spokesman, said the hiring plan is still in development but the company plans to “create a minimum of 168 new jobs.”

“We don’t have exact numbers beyond that,” he added, explaining that the 168 figure represents the minimum number of new employees that would qualify Target for certain government grants it expects for the project.

Baeb said the Suffolk location, which opened in 2003, is important logistically for the company to get products to its stores.

“It’s been a very important, successful facility for us for many years,” he said. “Clearly, this is a great location for distributing and for getting things from nearby ports. This is really all about looking at some things where we can improve efficiencies and serve guests better.”

The footprint of the current building on Manning Bridge Road will not grow, Baeb said, as all of the construction will be on the interior. Specialized material handling equipment will be brought in to replace the current equipment, and space will be devoted to new product lines expected to be shipped from the facility.

No down time is expected for the facility or its employees, he added.

“As the renovations are under way, it will continue to be a functioning facility,” he said. “It will continue to operate throughout.”

City officials are excited about Target’s announcement.

“We’re just really ecstatic that they chose to expand here in Suffolk, when there were a number of different distribution centers that were under consideration,” said Kevin Hughes, economic development director for the city. “Target really is a community member, and we work very closely with them on a number of different missions.”

Hughes said the city will provide an Economic Development Investment Program grant of $400,000, based on the estimated $40 million taxable amount of the announced expansion.

“We typically provide a grant when we’re in a competitive environment,” Hughes added.

“We don’t just see Target as a major employer in Suffolk, but as an ally and stakeholder in our city’s future,” Mayor Linda T. Johnson stated in the governor’s release. “Target’s decision to invest $50 million and hire hundreds of new positions at the Suffolk facility is outstanding news and a testament to Suffolk’s workforce, strategic location and operational advantages.”

The company worked with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance and the city of Suffolk to make the deal happen.

In addition to the grant from Suffolk, Target will receive benefits from the Port of Virginia’s Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Program. The Virginia Jobs Investment Program also will provide funding and services to support the company’s employee training program, according to the release.

“This announcement and Target’s investment in Suffolk and the commonwealth will provide hundreds of new jobs for Virginians,” Delegate Chris Jones stated in the release. “Target is a good corporate citizen that makes valuable contributions to the communities it serves. This investment is a great example of that. The General Assembly continues to make economic development a top priority, and it’s clear that those investments are paying dividends for our commonwealth and its people.”

Jones has been a strong advocate of the Port of Virginia, whose relationship with Target appears to have been a vital part of the company’s decision to expand.

“The Port of Virginia has had a long-standing and important relationship with Target, and we applaud the decision to expand its presence in Suffolk and the benefits it will bring to the commonwealth,” John F. Reinhart, chief executive officer and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority, stated.

Baeb said he had no information on whether truck traffic to and from the facility would increase following the expansion. He also couldn’t say whether there are any plans for an actual Target store in Suffolk in the future.