As ALDI moves in, Dinwiddie positioned for further economic development

By Michael Campbell – News Editor

Nestled at the intersection of two major East Coast interstates is Dinwiddie, a community in the midst of significant economic development growth.

On the heels of online retailer Amazon establishing a fulfillment center in the county, bringing hundreds of jobs to the area, German grocer ADLI announced their plans to establish a division headquarters and 500,000-square-foot distribution facility in Dinwiddie, beating North Carolina for the lucrative deal.

“We’re proud to locate our new division headquarters and distribution center in business-friendly Virginia. The access to qualified and capable employees and transportation options first attracted us to this location, but it was the integrity and positive attitude of the Dinwiddie County leaders that truly won us over,” said Jason Hart, CEO of ALDI remarked in an August statement following the announcement.

Its remarks of that caliber from business leaders that County Administrator Kevin Massengill points to as a strong reason businesses are looking at Dinwiddie.

“Knowing that we have a staff that is dedicated to proving to businesses that this is where you need to be, with a great community and workforce that can support it, it creates tremendous testimonials for when the next business comes,” Massengill remarked.

According to Massengill, the ALDI project took two years of “evolved negotiations” to get them to select Dinwiddie as their new home.

“Governments don’t create jobs, the private sector does,” he said. “It’s our job to be able to tell the private sector why they need to do it here.”

The Governor’s Office reports The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Dinwiddie to secure the project for Virginia.

Governor Terry McAuliffe approved a $450,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Dinwiddie with the project, while The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission approved $680,000 in Tobacco Region Opportunity Funds.

The company is eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

Funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

In discussing the ALDI and Amazon deal, Massengill explained the vital assets that the county has at its disposal, including immediate access to interstates 95 and 85, along with U.S. Route 460.

Additionally, access to rail for business and industry thanks to the county’s dual Norfolk Southern and CSX rail services and local air service through Dinwiddie General Aviation Airport and nearby Richmond International Airport serve as compelling factors for prospective businesses.

“We can get goods in and out of here very quickly,” Massengill explained. We’re not far from the Port of Virginia and you’re positioned on the East Coast in the middle, which all really positions us well from an economic development standpoint.”

The county administrator noted there can be a challenge when looking at growth, particularly if the county were to grow more residentially, as opposed to retail and industry-focused.

“If you grow residentially, we get into some concerns with the agricultural heritage that makes Dinwiddie unique,” he remarked. “So we don’t want to see the land just get gobbled up with homes. The better way to get a tax base isn’t necessarily in the residential side, it in the commercial, retail or industrial side.”

According to Massengill, the ADLI announcement alone “was the equivalent of a 350-home subdivision,” which the county administrator says these kinds of investments from businesses have helped keep the tax rate where it is.

For the county, the return on investment for the Amazon project was relatively quick, according to county officials, and they expect similar results once the ALDI facility is up and running.

“The return on investment for Amazon, from what the county had invested to when they start making a positive contribution, was less than a year, around nine months,” Massengill said. “From a citizen’s standpoint, that is very good for us.”

“For ALDI, it will still be less than a year,” he continued.

The new ALDI facilities are expected to bring over 140 jobs to the area, bringing an investment of $57 million to the commonwealth.

ALDI operates more than 1,500 US stores in 34 states and serves more than 32 million customers each month and is considered one of the fastest growing retailers in the US,

They are currently is in the midst of an accelerated growth plan to operate nearly 2,000 stores by the end of 2018, bringing high-quality, affordable groceries to 45 million customers nationwide.

Copyright 2016 by Womack Publications