Chowchilla leaders herald new $150M AutoZone distribution center, will create 300 jobs
Valley leaders say an empty dirt lot on Highway 99 in Chowchilla will soon be an important center of economic growth for the city, as well as the Madera-Merced County region. Those officials teamed with AutoZone representatives Friday morning to hold a groundbreaking ceremony for the new $150 million distribution center that will be built in Chowchilla. Chowchilla City Administrator Rod Pruett called it the biggest project to come to the city in decades. The 560,000 square foot facility will serve close to 300 AutoZone stores in Northern California, Oregon and Nevada. There are more than 6,000 AutoZone stores located in the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, according to the company’s website.
The project is expected to create close to 300 full-time jobs. The site of the distribution center will be along Chowchilla Boulevard, near Highway 99. “This is a huge day,” Pruett said. “This is the biggest project that’s come to Chowchilla in decades. It brings close to 300 jobs to our community which is a huge deal for us. It’s been over two years in the making.” “These are careers, not just jobs,” Pruett added. “High school kids can stay here in the community. They don’t have to leave. It keeps families intact here. It brings even more to our community as well.” AutoZone officials chose Chowchilla over several sites they were considering. “We were looking for somewhere to expand our presence in Northern California and we looked all over this region,” said Bill Rhodes, who is the AutoZone President and CEO.
Rhodes said he and other AutoZone representatives were impressed with the commitment of the Chowchilla city leaders drive to economic development in their community. “It’s going to take a couple years for us to build the facility,” Rhodes said. “We’ll put $150 million or more into the building. It’ll be 560,000 square feet, housing at least 300 Auto Zoners (employees) and it’ll probably grow pretty extensively beyond that as the years go. We’ll be servicing at least 300 stores and probably get to 500 or 600 stores over time. We’ll have a big fleet of tractor trailers that are coming in and out of here every single day.” Officials say they expect the facility to open near the end of 2023. “It stands for an opportunity (for) growth in a small community,” said Chowchilla Mayor John Chavez. “It stands for sustainable jobs where we reside. It stands for a solid future of development in our industrial area. It stands for a huge milestone for Chowchilla. This is probably the biggest thing to happen in Chowchilla since I’ve been here.”