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WALLKILL, NY-After putting the project on hold nearly six months ago, Wal-Mart has contacted local government officials here to tell them that it plans to break ground on a 1.2 million-sf distribution facility on Route 17K in May of 2004. Mia Masten, community affairs manager for the Eastern Region for Wal-Mart, says the retailer notified local officials about its plan to build the project earlier this week.

“We are moving forward,” Masten says. “The reason for the delay was because we were able to meet the needs of our customers with the efficiencies we had in our (existing) distribution system.” The retailer now believes that the distribution center, which will service stores in New York and New England, will be necessary. Construction on the project will take about a year to complete, therefore putting the opening date of the facility at sometime in the spring of 2005, she adds.

The Wal-Mart distribution center project, which has been projected to cost $48.5 million, was first announced by Gov. George Pataki in July 2002. Wal-Mart reported it intended to begin construction on the 300-acre parcel on Route 17 K near Exit 116 of Route 17, by the summer of 2003. However in June 2003, the retailer put the project on hold.

The development is expected to create approximately 600 construction jobs and approximately 700 jobs once the facility opens its doors. Estimates are that the workforce at the facility could grow to about 1,000 three years thereafter.

The distribution facility is located in a New York State Empire Zone. At the time it was first announced, New York State officials said Wal-Mart was eligible for an $850,000 training grant and a $200,000 capital grant from Empire State Development. In addition, the retailer was also eligible for a $600,000 grant and a $400,000, 10-year interest free loan from the State Department of Transportation’s Industrial Access Program.

State officials said when the deal was announced that Wal-Mart would invest more than $25 million in real estate and construction, $20 million for machinery and equipment and $3.5 million in infrastructure and training in relation to the Wallkill project.

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