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SMYRNA, DE-Plans for a $50-million Wal-Mart regional distribution center are moving forward as the city Planning and Zoning Commission and the Town Council prepare to vote on the Arkansas-based discount retail conglomerate’s site plan next week and next month, respectively. If all goes as expected–the development has the governor’s support–construction on the 1.2 million-sf facility will begin later this summer.

“In a time when America is facing an economic recession and many are worried about their job security, we are able to promise a significant number of new jobs for Delawareans,” Gov. Ruth Ann Minner remarked upon news of the project earlier this year. “Wal-Mart’s decision to locate in Smyrna also furthers our mission of creating new jobs in all parts of the state, so that all of our residents have access to full-time, quality employment.” The distribution hub is expected to bring 1,000 jobs to the Kent County area within three years of its scheduled opening late next year.

Located in the rail-served Smyrna Industrial Office Research Park–an adjacent 200-acre plot has been added to the publicly owned office park to contain the plant–the designated building site spans 189 acres off Wheatleys Pond Road near US Route 13. The massive dispensary will serve mid-Atlantic area Wal-Mart stores within a 200-mile radius. An additional 500 trucks are expected to travel neighboring US Route 300 on a daily basis, and Delaware Department of Transportation officials have already planned to make improvements to the corridor to accommodate the extra traffic.

Despite the contribution the center will make to area employment, many residents are against the project because of the increased traffic it will bring. The opposition, however, appears to be in the minority. Already, the state has committed $1.2 million for construction and will contribute as much as $100,000 for job training.

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