Wal-Mart to Build Distribution Center in Rockingham County

Gov. Mark Warner has made the biggest new job announcement since he took office.

Wal-Mart will build a regional distribution center in Rockingham County, bringing one thousand new jobs to the Valley.

The distribution center will be built at the northeast corner of the Mount Crawford-Bridgewater exit on Interstate 81.

Construction is expected to begin next spring, with service to stores planned for the following spring, in 2005.

Entry-level jobs are expected to be around $12 an hour, or $25,000 a year.

Rockingham County supervisor Chuck Ahrend says, "We have over 1,000 students graduate here every year. We need to have opportunities for them. And I think this is really a step forward for the county and the whole Valley."

Supervisor Pablo Cuevas says, "One of the positive aspects it brings is it's gender-friendly. It's a type of job opportunity that women as well as men can participate on an equal basis."

It also brings tax dollars to the county. More than $10 million is expected over the first 10 years. The state is showing its appreciation by giving Wal-Mart $1.5 million to help buy the site. And the county will commit $1.7 million to help with water and sewer costs and certain fees.

But will 1,000 jobs cause more people to move to the Valley? County Administrator Bill O'Brien says, "No, I don't think so. You look at our neighbor to the east, northeast, Page County, their unemployment rate is over nine percent."

O'Brien thinks the center will be a regional employer, also drawing from Augusta and Shenandoah counties, and West Virginia.

The first group of 600 area residents should be hired starting in early 2005.


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