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FINGERHUT SUBSIDIARY AIMING TO BREAK SPANISH FORK GROUND

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Western Distribution Inc. is out to prove it makes quick deliveries with more than just direct-mail marketing.

With unanimous approval from Spanish Fork's City Council and Redevelopment Agency - and expected approval from its Taxing Agency Committee next week - Western Distribution, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fingerhut, plans to break ground for its 1 million-square-foot distribution center on Wednesday.The company, which distributes merchandise including electronics, housewares, furniture and jewelry, will start construction on 163 acres in Spanish Fork Canyon south of the intersection of Powerhouse Road and U-214 and west of U.S. 6.

The site was promoted by the Redevelopment Agency because of the project's potential positive impact on the city and the entire state. An economic analysis by Richard D. Chong & Associates indicates a potential windfall from having Western Distribution as a neighbor. The property in its current state brings in $1,660 a year in taxes. Western Distribution should pay $5,124,295 within 12 years, the study shows. The project would generate approximately $10.4 million in new wages yearly for Spanish Fork and the surrounding areas.

The company expects to hire 527 permanent employees within 24 months of the center's projected opening in July 1995. Those jobs should stimulate the area economy and produce another 174 indirect jobs, the study shows. The company will employ between 700 and 800 employees when it is in full swing, said Lee Wilwerding, a Fingerhut spokesman. Most of those jobs will earn $6.75 to $7 an hour.

"Our intention is to hire the vast majority of the people here," Wilwerding said in during the first public hearing held on the project in June. Western Distribution will also use as many local workers as possible during construction, said Vice President Scott Abernethy.

The Redevelopment Agency is financing the project through tax increments, meaning that 75 percent of taxes collected above a base amount will go to reimburse the developer for site-acquisition fees. The Redevelopment Agency payments will be made within 12 years and will not exceed $2,087,810. The city will be reimbursed 12.5 percent of the increment and Nebo School District will get the remaining 12.5 percent.

The analysis estimates $13.22 of Western Distribution money will be spent for every $1 of public money. It also estimates that the company will spend $163.7 million in Utah during the next decade.

The city will spend $220,000 to straighten Powerhouse Road for the nearly 60 trucks that will enter and exit the facility each day.

The facility will be a million square feet, with plans for an additional 500,000 square feet. The structure will be large enough to cover 24 football fields. It will also have the capacity to sort 140-150 packages a minute, or 20 million packages a year.

The Spanish Fork facility will become Fingerhut's Western hub, servicing 16 states including Alaska and Hawaii.