A Decade After DHL's Departure, Wilmington Air Park Now Nearly Full
By the end of this year, 13 companies at the Wilmington Air Park, including Amazon, will employ more than 2,000 workers. Clinton County Port Authority Executive Director Dan Evers says 2.7 million-square feet on 1,900 acres is nearly 100 percent leased.
Amazon's new sorting facility will be the largest employer, followed by ATSG and its subsidiaries, including Airborne Engineering and Maintenance Services. Other companies include ABX Air, Logistics Services, Law Offices of Robert A Schuerger Co and JMCC.
For years, Evers has worked to attract a variety of tenants. "One of our goals is diversification and we are continuing to make strides to diversify the employment base out here," he says.
With its new sorting facility, Amazon will bring back regular air traffic seven days a week beginning in the third quarter of this year. This spring, the company is retro-fitting and re-equipping 1.2 million-square feet to meet its needs. That's about 30 percent of the air park.
"It's really market validation for the air park as a location for air cargo operations and for the community as a whole," Evers says.
It's been more than 10 years since DHL closed its U.S. operations in Wilmington. And two years ago, Amazon chose CVG over Wilmington for its Prime Air hub.
Amazon's new operation at the air park will include daily flights and an onsite facility to sort packages. Contractor Philip Barker moved here to work on Amazon planes and looks forward to the new sorting facility. "Even if it's long-term or temporary, it's still going to generate revenue for the community," Barker says.
Christina Bennett has lived in Wilmington her whole life. "I think it's great. The more the merrier," she says. "We took a hit and that really put a hurting on our town. So, I think a lot of people are excited about it. I love to see businesses grow."
Amazon hasn't announced how many workers it will hire in Wilmington. Evers put the number at hundreds initially.
He calls the Amazon presence a "significant deal on multiple fronts."
The Wilmington Air Park has long been a drone-testing area. Will Amazon use drones in Wilmington?
"Drones don't scare us and evidentially we don't scare (Amazon)," says Evers. "I think maybe as that technology develops that's a different side of the house for them other than the shipping but we'd certainly welcome opportunities to collaborate with them downstream."