Dollar Tree is preparing to become a huge player in the Marion County market.
That’s because the company is preparing to build a 1.7-million-square-foot distribution center on 198 acres at the new Florida Crossroads Commerce Park, located in Ocala off County Road 484 near Interstate 75. The project is estimated to generate up to $20 million in tax revenue over 20 years. The center will be the largest distribution facility in the county and one of the largest in the Sunshine State since the then-K-Mart center was built in 1990.
Marion County commissioners pulled out all the stops to lure Dollar Tree through a $9.9-million incentive package. The company will receive $3 million in the first phase of the project, which requires construction of a facility of at least 500,000 square feet. Up to $6 million will follow in the second phase when the company adds a facility encompassing up to 1 million square feet. The remaining $900,000 in incentives is coming through credit for transportation impact fees and permit fees related to the project.
Kevin Sheilley, president and CEO of the Ocala-Marion County Chamber Economic Partnership, said on Friday that the local area had at one point fallen out of the running for the distribution center. But the powers-that-be at Dollar Tree were swayed to reconsider through workforce programs and cooperation between Marion County Public Schools, Marion Technical College, and the College of Central Florida.
Dollar Tree stores sell items for $1 or less and at one time were called Only $1.00. The company operates more than 15,000 stores throughout the United States and Canada and had been working for more than a year and a half to locate one of its distribution centers in the southern portion of the country.
Dollar Tree’s entry into Ocala, which originally was labeled as Project Farmer, follows similar distribution centers operated by FedEx, Chewy and AutoZone. The company must create at least 255 jobs with an average salary of $42,250, though it seeks to create 695 jobs over the next 36 months.
Dollar Tree, a Fortune 200 company, is headquartered in Chesapeake, Virginia. Each store stocks a variety of products, including national, regional and private-label brands. Some of the products available include food and snacks, health and beauty, party, seasonal décor, housewares, glassware, dinnerware, household cleaning supplies, candy, toys, gifts, gift bags and wrap, stationery, craft supplies, teaching supplies, automotive, electronics, pet supplies, and books. Some stores also sell frozen foods, dairy items and pre-made baked goods.