FedEx facility welcomed to Middletown
MIDDLETOWN — With a mixture of pride, satisfaction and excitement, a ribbon was cut Friday signaling the formal opening of the new 600,000-square-foot FedEx ground hub.
Actually, it was a three-part ceremony that began with an appearance by the president and CEO of FedEx Ground at a meeting of the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce. That was followed by a ribbon-cutting and speeches inside the new facility at 1100 Middle St. The celebration concluded with guided walking tours of the mammoth ground hub. Guests who took the tour easily achieved their daily quota of 10,000 steps as a torrent of packages flashed by, passed over, under and beside them on two floors of the building.
The building, which is on a 259-acre parcel, was built on the site that previously was home to Aetna’s 1 million-square foot headquarters, which was demolished in 2009. In the intervening years, efforts were made in an effort to lure two companies to the property, Middletown Mayor Daniel T. Drew told an audience at the Chamber breakfast, which was held at the Red Lion Inn in Cromwell.
“We had some fits and starts,” Drew said. “But frankly, I’m glad they failed.”
Which meant the town was ready when FedEx reached out to them.
“This is the highest and best use of that property,” Drew said.
After Drew, Henry J. Maier, the CEO of FedEx Ground, spoke.
He said the new facility — one of 607 FedEx facilities in the U.S. — “incorporates some of the most advanced technology” that is capable of processing 45,000 packages per hour.
In just the past five years, FedEx has added 36 million square feet of new space, Maier said.
“Make no mistake: E-commerce is here to stay. That genie is out of the bottle,” he said.
“Ninety-six percent of Americans have made a purchase online,” Maier said.
Maier used a video to explain FedEx’s success “is not magic. It’s automation.”
“Automation is part of our DNA,” he added.
Maier had more good news.
Nationwide, Fed Ex expects to hire “more than 55,000 team members this holiday season,” Maier said.
Once the season is over, FedEx will offer holiday employees either full or part-time job opportunities, he said.
Maier closed his remarks saying, “We love being in your town.”
The FedEx building provided a dramatic back-drop as Drew expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Common Council and in particular Councilor Gerard Dailey, the Connecticut Building’s Trades, and to Larry McHugh, the president of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony got off to a roaring start — literally.
NASCAR Driver Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 FedEx Toyota growled and barked it way into the event to the delight of any number of the approximately 200 people gathered for the lunch-time ceremony.
In his remarks, Daley described the FedEx center as “one of the biggest and most important economic development projects in the past 25 years.”
“It’s big!” U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, marveled as she surveyed the interior of the building.
“The facility will employ nearly 1,000 full and part-time jobs. What could be better than that?” DeLauro said.
Other speakers have described the successful project as “a public/private partnership.” Instead, DeLauro described it as “a community/company collaboration.”
What’s more, “It was finished on time. Another on-time delivery for FedEx,” DeLauro said.