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Maumelle welcomes Dillard’s

By Caroline Zilk

This article was published January 9, 2011 at 6:00 a.m.

— Little Rock-based Dillard’s Inc. announced plans late last month for a new distribution center in Maumelle that will bring hundreds of new jobs to the city.

“We are excited,” Maumelle Mayor Mike Watson said. “This is an early Christmas present, and any time you are able to bring 300 jobs to central Arkansas, it’s going to have a lasting effect for years to come.”

The Maumelle City Council approved $42 million in 30-year revenue bonds to purchase and update the former Target distribution center, which closed last year.

Watson said about 500 employees at the Target facility were out of work when the center closed. The new facility will likely employ residents from around the central part of the state.

The city will lease the center to Higbee Co., an operating subsidiary of Dillard’s, which will pay for the bonds and allow Dillard’s to eventually own the center.

A $2 million incentive from the governor’s Quick Action Closing Fund is available for renovations to the facility and will fund almost 4 percent of the facility’s payroll for its first five years.

Dillard’s will use the space to meet orders placed through Dillard’s online store.

Representatives from Dillard’s said one of their biggest concerns is enhancing the online shopping experience for their customers.

“Our new Maumelle facility will provide the capacity, the technology and the people to support the growth of dillards.com,” company President Alex Dillard said in a statement.

This new center, which spans 850,000 square feet and is surrounded by 100 acres, will be the largest in the company’s history.

Another online order center is based in Nashville, Tenn. There are six distribution centers for Dillard’s retail stores nationwide.

Watson said Dillard’s also considered a Maumelle facility that formerly housed a distribution center for Scholastic Corp., but Dillard’s liked the larger size of the former Target center.

“The use of advanced robotics at levels only recently imagined, combined with other new automated materials handling techniques, will increase productivity while consuming less power and providing a safe, quiet working environment for our Maumelle-based associates,” Dillard said.

The center is expected to be open as early as late 2011 and be fully operational by late 2012.

“This was a lot of work by a lot of people,” Watson said. “The governor’s office assisted, and everyone had a part in making this happen, especially Dillard’s. It was a joint effort by a lot of people working hard to make a great day for Arkansas.”

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