By Allen Edmonds
The Belton City Council on Tuesday approved both readings of an Industrial Development project plan and performance agreement with online pet food retailer Chewy.com that is slated to provide 1,600 jobs that will pay an average of $35,000 annually. Construction will start immediately on the giant fulfillment center, which will finish off the Southview Commerce Center along the east side of Interstate 49.
Chapter 100 tax abatement will be provided on the project. Chewy will be required to pay payments in lieu of taxes for distribution to the taxing districts, but will receive a sales and use tax exemption on the purchase of production equipment.
The agreement requires that in order to continue the tax abatement and incentives, Chewy must maintain 1,200 jobs in 2021; 1,400 jobs in 2022; and 1,600 jobs beginning in 2023 and continuing throughout the term of the agreement (10 years); and generate retail sales of $80 million annually, beginning in the calendar year 2022, within the state of Missouri that are subject to the City’s local sales and use tax.
The city does not have a use tax currently, but some city leaders have been encouraging the adoption of one for several years now.
The deal was not only praised by local leaders, but got the attention of Gov. Mike Parson, who said, “Now more than ever, Missouri’s innovative businesses, logistics infrastructure and talented workforce are critical to our economy.Chewy, Inc.’s decision to expand in Belton and create new jobs for Missouri families is a testament to our ongoing business strengths even as we work to recover from COVID-19. We welcome Chewy to Missouri and look forward to working together as the company grows and invests in our state.”
Founded in 2011, Chewy operates out of more than 15 locations across the U.S., including 6.1 million square feet of fulfillment.
Chewy’s new Kansas City operation at Southview Commerce Center will be one of the largest fulfillment centers in its network by square footage.
“We are thrilled to open our first fulfillment center in Missouri and continue to grow our team. We’re so excited to be a part of this community and look forward to having a presence in the region,” said Diane Pelkey, Vice President of Communications and Public Relations at Chewy.
Missouri worked with a number of regional partners in attracting Chewy to the Kansas City area, including the Kansas City Area Development Council, Missouri Partnership, City of Belton, Cushman & Wakefield, NorthPoint Development, Evergy, Spire, QPS Employment Services, Aerotek, and KC SmartPort.
“This is the perfect time to welcome Chewy, Inc.’s eCommerce fulfillment center to the KC region,” said Tim Cowden, President and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council. “The KC Heartland is the crossroads of North America, and offers a strong advantage for eCommerce operations.”
“I am delighted that Chewy, Inc. has chosen NorthPoint Development’s Southview Commerce Center, in the great city of Belton, to be home to its newest eCommerce fulfillment center,” Belton Mayor Jeff Davis said. “This 800,000-square-foot project will complete the Commerce Center and bring more than 1,200 new jobs to our community. I know that I speak on behalf of the City Council when I say how excited we are about the opportunities this project creates for our city.”
According to an online article published Thursday in The Kansas City Business Journal, City Manager Alexa Barton and Economic Development Director Carolyn Yatsook began the process of competing for the Chewy facility on March 25, at the peak of the initial COVID-19 crisis.
At one point in the early negotiations, according to the article, they participated in 14 different video interviews regarding the project in just over three days.