Alachua in mix for Sysco center


Published: Friday, July 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, June 30, 2005 at 11:48 p.m.
A Sysco executive Thursday said the company was considering the city of Alachua as a possible site for a new distribution center.
But Jack Carlson, vice president of real estate for Sysco, would say only that the company was considering Alachua among a number of sites between northern Sumter County and Southern Georgia, and that executives would decide where to build "very soon."
Marion County Administrator Pat Howard said Thursday that Sysco officials told him they declined to build a distribution center in Marion County because they were "going to Alachua, next to where Dollar General and Wal-Mart and the others are."
"They pretty much told us that unless something doesn't work out with Alachua, they would talk to us later," Howard said.
When asked about Howard's statement, Carlson said he "would prefer not to comment on that at this time."
Alachua city officials referred specific questions about Sysco to the Alachua County Council for Economic Outreach, which as a rule does not discuss its economic development projects, officials there said.
But city officials said in the past few weeks, the Council for Economic Outreach had requested information from the city to pass along to a company thinking about locating there.
Thursday, Alachua Mayor Jean Calderwood said city officials didn't know whether that company was Sysco, but were eagerly awaiting more details.
"We're excited that this is a possibility," Calderwood said. "But we have to wait and see if that is truly a company the CEO is working with. The CEO gets information from us to provide to companies that may be looking all over Florida. We're anxiously awaiting to see what develops."
Sysco considered Ocala as a location for a 472,000-square-foot distribution center in May, but city officials and Sysco couldn't agree on a location. Company officials had said the facility would come with 290 jobs and pump more than $1.4 million each year in tax and utility revenue into the city, according to the Star-Banner newspaper. Sysco delivers food and restaurant supplies.
Alachua, a city of about 6,700 residents northwest of Gainesville, already houses a Dollar General distribution center on County Road 235A, and commissioners last summer approved a Wal-Mart distribution center to be built nearby.
Officials with Waco Properties, which sold the land to those companies, said Thursday they couldn't confirm or deny whether Sysco officials were considering Waco-owned property near the other sites.
Alachua is fighting litigation regarding its approval of the Wal-Mart distribution center from a group of residents who opposed the center.
City Manager Clovis Watson said the lawsuit wouldn't keep city officials from considering another distribution center.
"We don't close the door to anyone, nor do we open the door to say there's a free-for-all for distribution centers or any other type of business," Watson said. "We are always open for discussions about the feasibility of a business coming to our community."
Amy Reinink can be reached at 352-374-5088 or reinina@gvillesun.com

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