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Merchants Distributors Expands Hickory, North Carolina, Operations

Merchants Distributors, a wholesale grocery distributor, will expand its services and operations in Hickory, North Carolina. The $25 million project is expected to create 125 jobs in Caldwell County.

The company will add 250,000-square-feet of perishable capacity to its existing facilities, with the conversion of ambient space into space that can be chilled and maintained at a temperature of 34 degrees.

“Hickory, North Carolina has been our home for over ninety years, and we are excited to support our continued growth with another expansion at our Caldwell County facilities in the city of Hickory,” said Brian George, Chairman and CEO of Merchants Distributors. “As our business continues to grow, demand for perishable products has increased the need for chilled warehouse space to service our customers and communities. North Carolina continues to support business growth and invest in workforce development which makes expanding at this location possible.”

The project in North Carolina will be facilitated, in part, by a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) approved by the state’s Economic Investment Committee. Over the course of 12 years, the project is estimated to grow the state’s economy by $323.4 million. Using a formula that takes into account the new tax revenues generated by the new jobs, the agreement authorizes the potential reimbursement to the company of up to $1,079,000, spread over 12 years. Payments for all JDIGs only occur following performance verification by the departments of Commerce and Revenue that the company has met its incremental job creation and investment targets. JDIG projects result in positive net tax revenue to the state treasury, even after taking into consideration the grant’s reimbursement payments to a given company.

"Businesses that call North Carolina home continue to thrive here,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “MDI knows firsthand the workforce, business and quality of life advantages North Carolina offers and it is great to see them grow once again in our state.”

MDI and its parent company Alex Lee, Inc. were founded in Hickory and maintain headquarters there, distributing both food and non-food grocery items to more than 600 retail stores across the United States and other locations. The company also provides additional retail support to its customers, including marketing and other services.

"It’s exciting to see a home-grown company continue to do so well in our state,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “As our First in Talent strategic plan makes clear, North Carolina will continue to invest in our people and their training so we can maintain our best-in-class workforce that meets the needs of growing companies like MDI.”

In addition to the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of N.C., other key partners on this project were the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, Caldwell County, the City of Hickory and the Caldwell County EDC.

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