Walgreens distribution center opens today in Anderson Co.

Walgreens today will open a mammoth warehouse off Interstate 85 in Anderson County packed with gee-whiz packing machinery that allows the company to employ more than 100 workers with mental disabilities.

This is believed to be the largest concentration of such workers at an S.C. business.

Walgreens' pay and work structure for the disabled is considered rare among businesses, experts said.

The workers with autism and other mental disabilities will work side by side with those without such disabilities. Typically, the disabled are isolated from other workers.

Walgreens will pay all employees doing the same task the same wages at least $12 per hour plus benefits. Typically, the disabled earn just above minimum wage.

The warehouse, which took more than three years and $175 million to build, now employs 275 workers. It expects to have 800 by 2010.