- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 17, 2006

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — UPS Inc. announced plans yesterday for a second $1 billion expansion at its main air hub in recent years, this time adding 5,000 jobs as the world’s largest shipping carrier anticipates strong growth in global commerce.

The latest project will add 1.1 million square feet to the sprawling air hub known as UPS Worldport, making it bigger than 113 football fields.

The computerized sorting system installed four years ago will feature 197 miles of conveyors once the expansion is finished by 2010.

The expansion will help meet customer expectations for “more speed, more reach and more capacity,” said Bob Lekites, UPS vice president of airline and international operations. “We’re making Worldport, already the world’s largest package facility, even bigger.”

“We anticipate strong growth in global trade to continue for years to come,” CEO Michael L. Eskew said. “Expanding the centerpiece of our worldwide infrastructure is absolutely necessary to support the long-term needs of our customers.”

The Atlanta-based company’s other $1 billion investment in its Louisville hub more than doubled its sorting complex to 4 million square feet in 2002 and featured the labyrinth of conveyors for sorting packages bound for global destinations.

State Economic Development Secretary Marvin E. “Gene” Strong Jr. said UPS would be eligible for up to $51.6 million in state and local tax incentives over 10 years. He called it fair, “given the magnitude of the investment and employment opportunities.”

UPS said the expansion would start this year. Once completed, the hub’s sorting capacity will grow by 60 percent to more than 487,000 packages per hour.

“Everything about this project is big,” said Brendan Canavan, vice president of air operations.

About 260 flights come in and out of the Louisville hub each day that connect it with more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson said that the hub, next to Louisville’s main airport, is a key asset in trying to encourage business growth in the city. “It gives us an international calling card for economic growth,” he said.

Gov. Ernie Fletcher said the direct economic impact for Kentucky will be $344.8 million from the jobs, and there would be an indirect economic impact of $400 million from other companies moving to the area.

Shares of UPS fell $1.03, or 1.3 percent, to close at $79.73 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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