FedEx Express, an operating unit of Federal Express Corp. (NYSE: FDX), has signed a 25-year lease with Piedmont Triad International Airport (PTIA) to build and operate the $300 million Mid-Atlantic air-cargo package-sorting hub.

The facility, which will be one of six regional FedEx hubs, is scheduled to open in 2007. Memphis, TN-based FedEx Express, the world’s largest express transportation company, operates U.S. regional air-cargo hubs in Anchorage, AK; Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX; Indianapolis, IN; Oakland, CA, and Newark, NJ.

The Piedmont Triad, a 12-county region anchored by the cities of Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem, has a population exceeding 1.5 million residents. The region is the 36th largest metropolitan statistical area in the U.S.

“We are delighted that one of our nation’s premier corporations has signed a commitment to become a major employer in the Piedmont Triad,” Don Kirkman, president of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, said in a statement. “The jobs at the hub will provide FedEx’s outstanding employee benefits, such as health benefits and tuition reimbursements, for part-time and full-time employees.

Kirkman said the FedEx project will have extensive economic benefits for the Triad region, far beyond the 1,600 jobs at the hub. It will have a $7.5 billion economic impact, he said, and create nearly 20,000 new jobs in a 14-county area surrounding PTIA.

FedEx chose the Piedmont Triad airport for its Mid-Atlantic Hub in 1998, after also considering airports in Charlotte, Kinston and Raleigh-Durham, NC, and Columbia and Greenville-Spartanburg, SC. The FAA’s thorough approval process culminated with its Record of Decision to approve the project on Dec. 31, 2001.