Publix to build distribution center, fill 1,000 jobs in Greensboro

Publix, which has 42 grocery stores in North Carolina, will build a distribution in Guilford County.
Publix, which has 42 grocery stores in North Carolina, will build a distribution in Guilford County.

Grocery giant Publix plans to open a distribution center in Guilford County that will employ 1,000 people.

The Florida-based company will receive a job development grant from the state worth an estimated $13.1 million, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce.

The N.C. Economic Investment Committee approved the state grant at a special meeting Wednesday morning and Gov. Roy Cooper made the formal announcement at noon in Greensboro.

It’s the third “win” for the state in two days. On Tuesday, N.C. Commerce Secretary Tony Copeland announced the Japanese company Dowa Thermotech would open a plant in Lee County and hire 109 people. An hour later, Gov. Roy Cooper was in Fayetteville to announce that defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton would add 208 employees to its workforce there.

The Publix jobs will pay a minimum average annual salary of $44,000, just below the Guilford County average annual salary of $46,700.

The company plans a $300 million capital investment. The distribution center is expected to be completed by 2022 and the jobs are expected to be created by 2025, according to Cooper’s office.

The Commerce Department didn’t immediately have information on the location of the distribution center, but the Greensboro News & Record has previously reported that Publix was considering building a 1.8 million-square-foot center on 350 acres near the intersection of Birch Creek Road and U.S. 70 in eastern Greensboro.

The center will serve Publix stores in the Carolinas and Virginia. The company will be hiring for positions in administrative and maintenance departments as well as in the refrigerated warehouse, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

The state was competing with Cherokee County, S.C., for the distribution center, according to Commerce.

In addition to the state JDIG, the company will receive incentives from Guilford County worth $15 million and Greensboro is giving $17.7 million. The incentive agreement also includes $1.3 million in training grants for the North Carolina Community College System and $1.5 million for the state’s utility account, which helps fund rural infrastructure projects across the state.

The incentives are contingent on Publix meeting its investment and hiring goals, which include retaining 90 percent of the 1,000 employees. The grocer has 42 stores in North Carolina which employ 4,160 people, but that number is not considered toward its retention requirement.

Christopher Chung, the chief executive officer of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, said the trio of economic development announcements this week show how much the state has to offer to businesses.

“Anytime we have multiple announcements in multiple days, it’s a fantastic validation for the state,” Chung said in an interview with The News & Observer on Wednesday. “... The fact that it is occurring outside of (Raleigh and Charlotte) shows how diverse North Carolina is as a product, and how many locations we have for future growth.

“Our job is to put as much of North Carolina in play,” he added. “When we get contacted by companies they know Raleigh and Charlotte — but can we get them to look at other locations that meet their talent needs and their cost of doing business? We have a lot of great locations from the mountain to the coast.”

The announcements also come as speculation continues to grow around the Triangle’s status as a contender for both Amazon and Apple’s new campus search. Amazon has placed Raleigh on its shortlist of 20 cities in contention for “HQ2” and Apple has looked at locations in the Triangle for a corporate campus, The News & Observer previously reported.

But, state leaders are staying mum on the region’s standing for both of those projects.

Commerce spokesman David Rhoades said the department wouldn’t comment on specific companies, adding it is in talks with lots of companies.

Chung also declined to comment, though he added that the state has more than 200 active projects under consideration.

Cooper refused to comment about Apple earlier this month, saying he couldn’t comment on any company being recruited by North Carolina. The governor did say that he thought the state had put together a good proposal for North Carolina with Amazon, which is conducting a much more public search than Apple.

“I know that we put on a good case for North Carolina with Amazon and believe that this is a good destination for this company and many other companies not only across the country but across the world,” Cooper told reporters earlier this month. “Most of these companies do not conduct a public courting of states for new headquarters. Amazon took a new way to do it.

“However we have not heard from (Amazon) lately, but I am not sure anybody else has either,” he added. “So we are not concerned about that. We believe we have put on a good case and we are ready to continue to provide information to them.”

Eanes: 919-419-6684; @zeanes
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