SuperValu Inc., one of the largest grocery wholesalers and retailers in the country, is planning to spend about $69 million in a return to Harrisburg, where it will operate a wholesale distribution center to serve its Northeast customers.
The plan, announced Friday by Gov. Tom Wolf, brings SuperValu back to 3900 Industrial Road. The company announced plans in 2008 to close the Harrisburg facility by 2010 as it consolidated distribution into a Lancaster County facility.
A decade later, SuperValu, which has $16 billion in annual sales, is growing again and needs more space — and people. It plans to hire at least 350 people over the next three years for the Harrisburg facility.
The Minnesota-based company distributes groceries to more than 3,300 stores across the country, including more than 3,100 independent and franchise grocers. SuperValu also owns more than 200 retail grocery stores operating under five retail banners: Cub Foods, Hornbacher’s, Shop ‘N Save, Shoppers and Farm Fresh.
SuperValu spent nearly $37.1 million last year to buy the 750,000-square-foot distribution facility in Harrisburg, according to Dauphin County deed records. The company sold the property for $30.3 million in 2008 to a private-equity firm.
After buying it back in 2017, the company began preparing the facility for shipping operations. That renovation work has been completed and hiring has begun for some of the 350 jobs, said Mike Wilken, a SuperValu spokesman.
“Shipping for certain departments has already begun with additional departments coming online throughout the year,” Wilken said.
SuperValu has received funding from the state Department of Community and Economic Development that includes a $740,000 Pennsylvania First grant and $166,500 in WEDnetPA funding for employee training.
The Governor’s Action Team, a group of economic development professionals who report to the governor and work with businesses that are considering locating or expanding in Pennsylvania, facilitated the deal.
“This speaks to the strength of the Harrisburg market as a distribution hub,” said Dave Black, president and CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corp.
This site, which sits off Interstate 81 and adjacent to the Norfolk Southern intermodal railyard, is a logical place for grocery distribution, Black said. The midstate highway system, which includes I-81, makes it easy for companies to quickly reach most major cities along the East Coast.
Black also said this decision by SuperValu to come back to Harrisburg speaks to the ongoing economic recovery. Ten years ago, many companies were cutting back operations because of the financial collapse. Now many businesses are spending big on new facilities, including distribution centers.
Central Pennsylvania has seen a steady surge of new industrial development, especially along Interstates 78 and I-81 in Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon and Berks counties, as well as Interstate 83 in York County.