GTCC professor says Piedmont a prime spot for distribution centers

JAMESTOWN, N.C. -- With Lidl and Sheetz distribution centers joining the ones already here, Guilford Technical Community College associate professor Sam Chinnis feels the Piedmont is a prime spot for transporting goods from manufacturers to neighborhood stores.

"The infrastructure of the highway system, a growing airport and we are close to many ports on the east coast," said Chinnis.

This could be part of the reason why Publix is considering building a massive distribution center in eastern Guilford County. The company is looking at land near Birch Creek Road and U.S. 70. The distribution center could bring 1,000 jobs.

"I think the Publix distribution center would be a big score for the region," Chinnis explained. "I think I saw 1.8 million square feet planned. That's large, huge for a distribution center."

Chinnis teaches supply chain management at GTCC. He uses the school's model warehouse to simulate what it's like to work in a distribution center.

"We want students to contribute as quickly as possible," Chinnis said. "We concentrate on the equipment and the business process."

Driving a forklift or carrying boxes might be the first images that come to mind when working at a distribution center. But Chinnis said technology is playing a bigger role.

"As things become more automated, the skill level for jobs goes up," Chinnis said. "You have to understand the automation and be able to make it work or be more efficient."

In order to bring a possible Publix distribution center to eastern Guilford County, Greensboro City Council approved an incentives package with a value close to $20 million. Guilford County Commissioners will hold a public hearing on April 5 or April 19 to discuss their incentives.

Publix will announce their decision during the summer.