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Smithfield Foods plans $74 million distribution center in Cecil County, creating 240 jobs

Smithfield Foods Inc. plans to open a distribution center in Cecil County this fall that will employ 240 people.

The Smithfield, Va.-based hog producer and pork processor will open a 420,000-square-foot facility in the Principio Business Park in North East, Smithfield and state officials announced Monday. The 1,000-acre industrial park is home to a 1.1-million-square-foot Amazon fulfillment center, a Restoration Hardware distribution center and dozens of other businesses.

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The roughly $74 million center, located along the Interstate 95 corridor, will distribute its products to customers in the Northeast, the company said.

“This new distribution center is an essential part of our efforts to streamline our national logistics network to optimize our operations, while advancing our ambitious sustainability goals,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, Smithfield’s president and CEO, in an announcement.

Smithfield, founded in Virginia more than 80 years ago, owns multiple packaged meat brands, including Esskay. The company said in January it decided to discontinue making Esskay Orioles Franks, a hot dog once made in Baltimore and sold at Baltimore Orioles games. The company still makes Esskay deli meat and chipped beef products.

The $15 billion privately held global meat company with a portfolio of dozens of brands that sometimes compete with one another has been trying to reduce expenses and duplication.

Gov. Larry Hogan called the company’s latest plans a “tremendous win for the state and for Cecil County.”

Kelly M. Schulz, state commerce secretary, said in the announcement the state offers a competitive advantage because of its proximity to a third of the U.S. population within an overnight drive.

The state plans to give Smithfield a $720,000 conditional loan through its economic development assistance loan, said Karen Glenn Hood, a spokeswoman for the state commerce department. The loan would be forgiven after 10 years if Smithfield invests about $74 million “give or take” and employs 240 people by a certain date, which is still open to negotiation, she said.

Cecil County also plans to extend an $80,000 conditional loan to Smithfield, which also would be eligible for state job creation and enterprise zone tax credits, Hood said.

A company spokesman said in an email that the jobs will be typical distribution center positions ranging from material handlers and inventory control positions to supervisors and shipping clerks. Wages vary by position. Available jobs will be posted on its website.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday: This story was updated to reflect when the center will open and offer information about the jobs.

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