Update: Officials weigh in on Wal-Mart automation investment

Wal-Mart Distribution Center in Cullman (Tiffany McKoy)

CULLMAN, Ala. – As The Tribune previously reported, the Cullman City Council on Monday night approved a $20 million tax abatement for Wal-Mart, which is planning a $350 million capital investment in the Wal-Mart Distribution Center in south Cullman. According to Cullman Economic Development Agency Director Dale Greer, Wal-Mart plans to automate its distribution center over the next several years. On Tuesday, he and other officials offered more comments on the matter.

“$350 million is the largest single capital investment in our history,” Greer stated. “I think this solidifies Wal-Mart’s future here for the foreseeable future. That’s a plus; today they employ 1,300 folks.”

Every city and county in Alabama is allowed to abate the non-education portion of property tax as an incentive for new industry and to encourage existing industry to expand, said Greer.

“With this investment, it will create $20 million in educational taxes,” said Cullman Mayor Woody Jacobs, who explained that amount will be divided by the State, County and City. “The good thing about this automation project is that it’s reaffirming Wal-Mart’s relationship with the city of Cullman.”

Wal-Mart Distribution Center 6006 opened in Cullman in 1983 and currently employees 1,300 associates. It is the oldest distribution center in the company footprint nationwide and is still operating as originally intended.

“This automation facelift means Wal-Mart will continue for years to be a part of the Cullman industrial base,” Greer stated.

Wal-Mart’s $350 million automation project is the largest announced industry capital investment in the history of Cullman County and surpasses the all-time record capital investment for a single year of $280 million set in 2022, according to Greer.

“Expansion of an existing company is validation of a strong workforce, and this is an opportunity for employees to learn new skills and have a brighter future,” he said.

According to Greer, company officials predict that in the long term, more employees could be needed at the distribution center, because automation could allow the Cullman operation to serve more retail stores.

Said Jacobs, “This automation investment by Wal-Mart confirms that Cullman has been a great partner community. No industry here can match the jobs created by Wal-Mart over the past 40 years, and this investment guarantees they will continue providing quality jobs for the foreseeable future.”

“Wal-Mart’s distribution center has been a landmark enterprise in Cullman for four decades, and it’s great to see the company make a significant investment to ensure that this facility will have a long future in the community,” said Alabama Department of Commerce Sec. Greg Canfield. “By upgrading a facility that serves as a major employer in Cullman, Wal-Mart is demonstrating a strong commitment to its workers and to the region that has supported it since 1983.”

“Wal-Mart means far more than the just the 1,300 jobs here,” Cullman County Commission Chairman Jeff Clemons said. “The company ranks among the top five in Cullman for property tax payments, and this expansion will generate nearly $20 million for our schools. Industry growth is important to a community and I am excited by this announcement.”

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