Thursday, November 13, 2008


Nov 13, 2008

Gov. Mike Easley announced today that Merchants Distributors Inc., a Hickory-based wholesale food distribution company, will expand its distribution center in Caldwell County, adding 200 jobs and investing more than $50 million by 2014. The project was made possible in part by a Job Development Investment Grant.

“MDI has been an important corporate citizen in our state for more than 75 years,” Easley said. “We are proud that our top-ranked business climate and our investments in education and workforce development continue to encourage companies to expand and provide more good-paying jobs for North Carolina families.”

The company currently employs more than 1,500 workers at the Hickory distribution center. The additional 200 jobs will pay an average annual salary of $51,123, not including benefits, which is greater than the Caldwell County average of $28,184.

MDI is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alex Lee Inc., which owns Lowe’s Food Stores Inc. and several other food-related companies that supply grocers, restaurants and other food establishments. Founded in 1931 in Hickory, MDI currently supplies goods to more than 850 customers in 10 states from Ohio to Florida. The expansion, which will begin in 2009, will allow the company to meet growing customer needs.

“As our customer base continues to grow and diversify, we evaluated a number of options and locations to meet the growing demand,” said MDI President Matt Saunders. “In the end, we have determined that expanding here in North Carolina was absolutely the right move for us.”

The state’s Economic Investment Committee voted unanimously today to award a Job Development Investment Grant to MDI to facilitate this project. This is the 83rd JDIG award announced since Easley and the General Assembly started the program in 2002, and the 13th awarded this year.

For each year in which the company meets the required performance targets, the state will provide a grant equal to 65 percent of the state personal income withholding taxes derived from the creation of new jobs. Should the company create the jobs called for under the agreement and sustain them for 10 years, the agreement could yield as much as $2.82 million in maximum benefits for MDI.
Job Development Investment Grants are awarded only to new and expanding businesses and industrial projects whose benefits exceed the costs to the state and which would not be undertaken in North Carolina without the grant. Since the first grant was awarded in 2003, the program has been responsible for creating more than 30,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment in North Carolina.

Other partners who assisted with this announcement include: the N.C. Department of Commerce,
N.C. Department of Transportation, Caldwell County, the City of Hickory, the Town of Granite Falls, Golden LEAF, the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, N.C. Community College System and Duke Energy.

For more information about Merchant Distributors Inc., including employment opportunities with the company, visit