FedEx ramps up in Troutdale

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Thursday, November 18, 2010
FedEx's new 447,000-square-foot shipping facility in Troutdale is humming with activity as the company prepares for the holiday madness. Local managers have hired part time and full time workers and employment at the facility is up to 550 jobs and growing.

"We are expecting there to be a good amount of increased shipping," says Tom Campbell, northwest managing director for FedEx Ground. "We are looking forward to put on more folks."

Campbell said that the biggest increases in holiday hires will be for sorting packages. Additional package handlers in the hub and short-distance drivers (both full time and contract) who do pick up and delivery will also be hired. These positions usually range from $10 to $35 per hour and can lead to permanent jobs beyond the holiday season. The company has a backlog of applicants from a job fair held in July.

Each day workers at the Troutdale facility load 22,500 packages bound for regional destinations. The operation represents a $100 million investment by FedEx to increase capacity and efficiency, says David Westrick, a spokesman for FedEx Ground in Pittsburgh.

Over the next five to seven years FedEx plans to expand the Troutdale facility by 33%, adding a new wing and increasing staff as the facility expands, says Campbell. He says the expansion should improve speed in service and help FedEx gain more customers.

At the end of the summer, almost all of the 450 Swan Island facility employees moved with the company when FedEx Ground purchased the Reynolds Metals Co. aluminum plant in Troutdale from the Port of Portland for approximately $17 million. Since the move, FedEx has hired 100 employees, mainly package handlers, and has doubled its management force. An additional 200 contractors and their drivers also work at the FedEx location.

David Eatwell, economic development director for the West Columbia Gorge Economic Development Consortium,  says employment at FedEx could reach approximately 800 by the end of next year.

The new hires satisfy FedEx's enterprise zone arrangement with the state and the city of Troutdale. The property is part of a 1,576-acre zone stretching from Fairview to the Sandy River along the I-84 Columbia River shore. FedEx does not have to pay property tax for the first three years of operation. The city of Troutdale had the enterprise zone approved by the state to encourage large-scale investment before FedEx purchased the 78-acre parcel. In order for FedEx to receive the tax abatement, the company verifies with the state that it is increasing full-time permanent employment by 10%, investing a minimum of $1 million, and maintaining or increasing purchases from local businesses and ensuring job quality. Troutdale stipulated that the average of all hourly full time wages must be 150% of the Oregon minimum wage.

FedEx announced last week that this holiday season will be the company's busiest season in its history. More than 223 million shipments, 11% more than last year, are expected to travel through mirrored six-side scanners and through the hands of FedEx package handlers. 16 million shipments are expected to travel around the world on December 13, a 12% increase from 2009's busiest day.

Jacq Lacy is an associate writer for Oregon Business.

 

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