The City of Hickory announced Wednesday (September 30) that there will be more than 100 new jobs created as a result of an expansion project. Merchants Distributors, LLC, (MDI) a wholesale grocery distributor founded in Hickory in 1931, will invest $120 million to expand its services and operations. The company anticipates adding approximately 200,000 square feet to its Caldwell County facilities and 111 new jobs will be created. The company is located in a portion of southern Caldwell County that is part of the City of Hickory.
Although wages for the new jobs will vary depending on position, the average salary will be $51,634, above the current average wage in Caldwell County of $40,124. The state and local area will see an additional impact of more than $5.7 million each year from the new payroll.
MDI and its parent company, Alex Lee, Inc., were founded in Hickory and maintain headquarters here, 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 retail automation services, advertising and placement, and retail price hosting, among other services.
The company’s new project in Caldwell County will renovate and expand the company’s existing facility in Hickory, including the installation of sophisticated logistics technology and automation to support rapid growth of the business.
The MDI project will be facilitated, in part, by a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) approved by the state’s Economic Investment Committee Wednesday. Over the course of 12 years, the project is estimated to grow the state’s economy by $305.5 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 $1,344,000, spread over 12 years.
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.