Dick’s Sporting Goods, REI, Bimbo Bakeries USA and Sub-Zero are four humongous buildings along Loop 303 in Goodyear, part of a growing effort to attract industrial employers to the West Valley.
The distribution centers, all part of the PV303 business park that runs from Thomas Road to Camelback Road, counts two key factors for its success:
A foreign-trade zone that provides tax breaks to companies.
The location is a win for Goodyear as workers can travel against the rush-hour commute headed east toward Phoenix, said Sean Walters chief operating officer of Sunbelt Holdings, the real estate developer that planned the park’s layout.
The location, near Interstate 10, is also good for the companies transporting goods across state lines. The prime spot has caused some companies to consider relocating to the West Valley from as far west as California, Walters said.
A sign of the area’s success, according to Walters, is that companies haven’t just rented space in the business park — they’re buying.
“Something that is really key, and a validation of this master-planned business park being something that’s going to be here for a long time to come, is each of these companies bought the property,” Walters said. “They’re not going to be there for just five or 10 years and then be gone. They’re going to be here for a long time.”
Inside the PV303 business park
Edward Brabham, senior director of Distribution Center Operations at the Dick’s Goodyear facility, said the plant employs about 240 employees in a variety of hourly and salaried jobs. Some require college degrees while others don’t.
Brabham has worked at the Dick’s facility since it opened in 2013. As he walks through the distribution center, between rows of packages ready to ship and dozens of workers operating forklifts, he greets almost everyone by name.
Although the employees move items by hand, an automated conveyor belt takes merchandise from one end of the warehouse to the other. Brabham, though, isn’t concerned about increased automation displacing workers.
When asked if he thinks it will phase out jobs in his facility, he shakes his head.
“No, not at all,” he said.
‘Almost 1,000 jobs’ and growing
Harry Paxton, a project manager in Goodyear’s Economic Development Department, said the foreign trade zone has made all the difference. It’s one of eight in Arizona, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“If you go back to 2010, there were no businesses really of an industrial nature (in Goodyear). But there’s almost 1,000 jobs there now. About 900,” Paxton said.
Companies operating within an FTZ save up to a 72 percent on property taxes, according to the PV303 website.
Paxton says Arizona doesn’t offer many property tax incentives to businesses, which makes the foreign trade zone particularly valuable in attracting companies and encouraging expansion.
He said the break on property taxes isn’t cause for concern for the city’s economy when it comes to education funding, because the number of jobs coming in outweighs the loss in tax revenue.
Big demand for West Valley jobs
The response from workers was overwhelming when the facilities started to open, said Kevin Czerwinski, president of Merit Partners, which partnered with Sunbelt Holdings to build the PV303 facilities.
“I think they (Dick’s Sporting Goods) were looking for 85 jobs to fill initially; that was at the very beginning,” he said. “They had over 1,200 applicants in less than three days. So that tells you something.”
Walters said the business park is going to attract an increasingly diverse array of businesses to meet more of the community’s needs for jobs.
“We’ve got the ability to go big or small,” he said.
He praised the city’s efforts to advocate for a mix of employers and to help attract them.
“For those reasons, we’re just really bullish on what’s going on,” Walters said.