District partners with city, county to lure Gap to Longview

As great a deal as the new Gap distribution center is for the Longview area, exactly what does it mean for the students, staff, and community of Longview ISD? 

District partners with city, county to lure Gap to Longview

Thu Feb 25, 2021

Bridgin-the-Gap-art

   

It seems that Longview is “in season” for this year’s Gap catalog.

On Wednesday, Feb. 25, the city of Longview announced that Gap Inc. would be constructing their latest e-commerce fulfillment and distribution center in Longview, with an investment of $140 million. 
 

Financial Impact for LISD

Company officials said within the next five years, Gap will create upwards of 1,200 full-time jobs in Longview, with an additional 1,000 part-time and seasonal jobs created by 2026.

“A thousand new jobs, starting off, when they open, is going to be a tremendous financial impact,” said Dr. James Wilcox, Superintendent of Schools for Longview ISD.

“We want our students to have a safe, healthy environment and there is nothing that gives a student more security than their parents having a good long-term job that pays them a living wage. Then they can worry about their studies and what they are doing when they come up to school.”

Full-time hourly pay will be $15 to $16 an hour with benefits, according to Longview Economic Development Corp.

Wayne-Guidry-headshot-2021“We are very excited about the news of the new Gap distribution center coming to Longview,” added Dr. Wayne Guidry, Assistant Superintendent of Finance. “This will provide new opportunities for the citizens of Longview in terms of employment. Expansions of this nature always have a positive impact financially on school districts.”

The 850,000 square-foot facility will be built on 142 acres at Longview’s North Business Park, just off U.S. 259 and well inside the taxing district of LISD. Set to break ground in April at the earliest, the facility will initially serve Old Navy’s growing online business and should be fully operational by August 2022. Old Navy is one of several clothing brands that belong to parent company Gap Inc.

With the numbers that Gap has committed to, the facility would make the company the fourth-largest employer by the current rankings in Longview, according to LEDCO.
 

A 'Win-Win' for everyone

As Gap moves to expand its online business, this location marks only their seventh facility like it in North America. The company has seen 50 percent of its volume in the past three years come from online sales.

“As we look to deliver on our three-year strategy and double our online business, we needed to expand our fulfillment network to provide a great experience for our customers today and ensure we have the ability to grow in the future,” said Mr. Shawn Curran, chief operating officer of Gap Inc., which generated $16.4 billion in sales in 2019.

During the Gap investor day in October last year, the company said that in 2019, 25 percent of its sales were generated by e-commerce, and the goal of the company was to double that to 50 percent by 2023.

Dr. Wilcox explained that Gap was looking to bolster its economic footprint in the southwest part of the country.

Dr-James-Wilcox-2020-MUGSHOT“So we are extremely pleased that they chose Longview,” he said. “LISD was glad to play a role in that selection process and I think that one of the factors in their decision to come here was this was the only area they were looking at which had an International Baccalaureate Programme for grades K-12.”

Dr. Wilcox said such globally-relevant educational offerings undoubtedly helped improve Longview’s profile for the company.

“Our teachers, staff, and students are on the cutting-edge in various aspects of public education,” he said. “When a company looks at where their employees are going to live and raise their families, that can’t help but be an important factor.”
 

Art of the Deal

LISD had three meetings with Gap officials, LEDCO, and the City of Longview. An agreement was made over a tax abatement transition period.

Longview and Gregg County both agreed to 25-year tax abatements that would see them reimburse Gap Inc. for its real and personal property taxes so long as the company maintained the employee and capital investment goals each year of the 25-year agreement.

“After that, they will be on the tax rolls and generate revenue for the district,” Dr. Wilcox said. “We’re extremely pleased to be a part of this opportunity to bring this many jobs to Longview.” 

Longview Mayor (and Longview High alum) Dr. Andy Mack described this development as a potential gamechanger for the city.

“This is something unprecedented in our community; this is not something we’ve ever seen before or happened,” he said. “The City of Longview is going to be just as shocked as I am about what kind of opportunity this is for our community. It’s something unlike anything we’ve seen before.” 

GAP officials explained that these kinds of distribution centers have some of the most automated warehouses in the world, but will still be run by people. And this is the first ground-up facility the company has built in 20 years.

"As big of a deal as we think this is right now," said Mayor Mack, "It still remains to be seen just how big this is going to be for the people of Longview. I'm thrilled that we have this tremendous opportunity."