10-01-2020 – MDI announces major Caldwell expansion

Posted on: October 1st, 2020 by admin


October 1, 2020



Sep 30, 2020 5:08 PM


Caldwell County’s largest private employer announced a $120 million expansion project Wednesday that could create 111 new jobs.


Merchants Distributors Inc. plans to expand its facilities by adding a 200,000-square-foot building to its grocery distribution complex just east of U.S. 321 in a portion of southern Caldwell County that is within the Hickory city limits. The project will include the installation of sophisticated logistics technology and automation, according to a press release from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office.


The state’s Economic Investment Committee approved on Wednesday a Job Development Investment Grant that could reimburse MDI up to $1.344 million of its investment over 12 years, based on the new tax revenues generated by the new jobs the project creates.


The Caldwell County Board of Commissioners voted in May to offer job-creation incentives of $2,000 for each job created up to 111 jobs, as well as for each job retained up to 120, for a total of $462,000.


At the time the commissioners voted on incentives, the company was not identified as MDI but only as Project Jorgai because North Carolina was competing with South Carolina and Georgia to land the project. Competitive state grants call for the confidentiality of a project until a final decision is made.


The commissioners also approved a 75 percent tax grant for 10 years, which will give back to the company 75 percent of the property taxes it pays on the new value created by its investment.


The new jobs will have an average annual salary of $51,634, higher than the county’s overall average of $40,124, according to the press release.


Over the course of 12 years, the project is estimated to grow the state’s economy by $305.5 million, the governor’s office said.


Brian George, chairman and CEO of MDI, said that the company’s local roots helped make the decision on where to expand.


“We are excited to continue to grow in Hickory where we were founded nearly 90 years ago,” he said.


Randy Church, chairman of the Caldwell County Board of Commissioners, said that Hickory also offering incentives was important to securing the expansion, though a final vote has not been taken.


The Hickory City Council will vote in October on a $500,000 infrastructure grant related to the new construction project. City Manager Warren Wood said that city officials wanted to match the incentives offered by Caldwell County.


Wood said that the city council will also vote on an investment grant that could provide $3.9 million over eight years.


The MDI expansion will be second only to Google’s $600 million data center expansion in its size and impact on the Caldwell County economy, said Deborah Murray, the executive director of the Caldwell County Economic Development Commission. She said that it provides a sense of encouragement and relief during a period of economic uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic.


“It’s exciting that even in these times you have this kind of investment and growth and vision,” she said. “This is our largest private employer, and their value to us has been well-illustrated. It couldn’t be better timed.”


Reporter Garrett Stell can be reached at 828-610-8723.


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