New grocery distribution center to bring nearly 300 jobs to Pearl River


Posted on June 29, 2011 at 6:37 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jun 29 at 6:44 PM

Doug Mouton / Northshore Bureau Chief

PEARL RIVER, La. -- A new grocery distribution center being built in Pearl River will mean 290 new jobs, St. Tammany leaders announced Wednesday.

Associated Wholesale Grocers (AWG) will set up shop on a 68-acre piece of property along Interstate 59.

Location, St. Tammany leaders said, was the key.

"Not only does it front it front on Interstate 59, but it's just a few miles from Interstates 10 and 12," Brenda Reine-Bertus of the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation said after Wednesday's groundbreaking. "This site, unlike many sites, has a back door. It's right on State Highway 11, so a lot of distributors like that - they have the opportunity to use their front door on Interstate 59 and their back door on Highway 11."

According to the St. Tammany Economic Development Foundation, the $75 million project will support 588 construction jobs to build the 720,000 square foot facility.

"You see different infusions of cash," Reine-Bertus said. "You see the cash from the construction, which certainly is going to be realized in the whole area, and then you see the jobs."

The goal, according to AWG, is to begin construction next door to the current Rooms-To-Go Distribution Center in July, and begin shipping groceries from the facility by January of 2013.

AWG will supply a variety of grocery chains from the Pearl River facility, from Texas to the Florida Panhandle.

The 290 full-time jobs will average roughly $40,000 a year.

"You're talking about probably a $20 million dollar a year payroll, just for those 300 jobs to the area," said state Rep. Kevin Pearson, a Slidell Republican who represents much of the Pearl River area. "Those are homes. Those are people who are going to live here."

Plus, parish leaders expect an influx of support businesses like restaurants, fast food places and perhaps another hotel, to go along with the AWF Distribution Center.

St. Tammany leaders said Wednesday that the Pearl River area, which has become a distribution hub, still has room to grow.

"We have another hundred acres or more," Reine-Bertus said, "and so we'll keep marketing that to whomever wants to look at it."