Dietz & Watson is leaving New Jersey after all.
After a fire destroyed its Delanco warehouse and distribution center last September, the cold cut maker said Tuesday it’s moving those operations to Philadelphia, where it already has its headquarters. The announcement comes four months after the company floated the idea of rebuilding in Burlington County, with the help of a $3.1 million tax credit from the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.
The company will relocate 110 jobs from the former Delanco facility, whose employees had been operating in Philadelphia since the fire.
In a statement Tuesday, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett and local officials said Dietz & Watson will nearly double its footprint in the city’s Tacony section. It will create 158 new jobs in the state and retain nearly 700 already in Philadelphia, thanks in part to $2.1 million in grants and eligibility for more than $12 million in other loans and funding.
The fourth-generation company will build a 200,000-square-foot distribution center to create a new Tacony food campus alongside its headquarters of 75 years, according to the news release. The investment totals more than $50 million.
In a prepared statement, Dietz and Watson CEO Louis Eni said the decision was “a tremendous opportunity for our family-owned company to grow in the city and state that has supported us for 75 years.” The company had sought to move to the property nearly 10 years ago when it first sought to build a large distribution center, but the site wasn’t available at the time, he said.
“The people of Delanco, New Jersey, welcomed us and for that we will forever be grateful,” Eni said. “The fire was a tragedy and the resulting cleanup impacted a lot of our neighbors. We thank them for their patience and support. Our family thought long and hard about the decision to leave New Jersey. But in the end, we believe it’s the right decision for our employees, our customers and for the future of our company.”
Dietz & Watson also will build a new conveyer system that brings food from its manufacturing facility to new storage facilities, eliminating more than 200 weekly truck trips across the Delaware River.
The company said it was considering a plan to rebuild its Delanco facility in February when it was approved for a $3.1 million Grow New Jersey tax credit. The company had submitted plans for a 160,000-square-foot cold storage building, new corporate offices and a fleet maintenance garage.
The project would have created 213 new full-time jobs and help New Jersey retain 135 at-risk positions, EDA officials said at the time.
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