Distribution Cluster Spreads Opportunity Evenly

Southeastern North Carolina's appeal as a center for distribution operations is becoming known to top American firms. Despite a slowing national economy, regional development officials continue to see strong project activity surrounding the Southeast's distribution centers—the sprawling warehousing and logistics facilities that direct products into the hands of retailers and end-users.

Ongoing upgrades to container shipping terminals at the Port of Wilmington have driven one private real estate developer to Leland Industrial Park, just 10 miles away. Earlier this year, BPG Properties, a Pennsylvania-based developer, unveiled plans to construct a speculative distribution building that will span nearby a million square-feet on a 75-acre plot off U.S. Highway 74/76.

Though convenience to ports drove BPG to Brunswick County, inland communities in the region are not being overlooked as destinations for big distribution facilities. In March, officials in Richmond County announced that SRB Holdings would construct a 300,000 sq.-ft. distribution center on a 29-acre site at Richmond County Industrial Park in Hamlet. The company is investing $12 million in the venture and will employ 150 people there in the distribution of its recreational products.

Scotland County is also entering the logistics big leagues. Officials with WestPoint Home (formerly WestPoint Stevens) recently embarked on a new strategic partnership with Hellmann Worldwide, a leading global third-party logistics provider, to consolidate WestPoint's national distribution operations at the latter's shuttered textile plant in Wagram. The center now employs 120, and its workforce will expand to 200 by the end of the year. In time, other tenants will work with Hellmann Worldwide, a German multinational whose U.S. operations are based in Miami, in bringing additional logistics clients to the 1.6 million-square-foot complex.