skip to Main Content
Photo courtesy of LinkedIn

New Jobs Coming To Region, MDI Expansion Announced

More than 100 jobs are coming to the Hickory Metro. Officials in Caldwell County and Governor Roy Cooper announced today (July 12) that Merchants Distributors, LLC (MDI), a wholesale grocery distributor founded in Hickory in 1931 will invest $35 million in a new expansion of its services and operations, creating 125 jobs. The company anticipates adding approximately 250,000 square feet to its perishable capacity at its Caldwell County facilities.

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. The company’s new project in Caldwell County will add perishable capacity to the company’s existing facility in Hickory, with the conversion of ambient space into space that can be chilled and maintained at a temperature of 34 degrees.

Although wages for the new jobs will vary depending on position, the average salary will be $59,092, above the current average wage in Caldwell County of $43,905. The state and local area will see an additional impact of more than $7 million each year from the new payroll.

MDI’s project in North Carolina will be facilitated, in part, by a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) approved by the state’s Economic Investment Committee earlier today. 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.

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.