Americold Realty Trust of Atlanta announced Friday that it will invest $84 million in an expansion of its Russellville operations and create 30 jobs.
"We are excited to expand our presence in the state of Arkansas," President and CEO Fred Boehler said in a news release. "The Russellville facility will be highly automated to provide mission critical, long term infrastructure for one of our top tier strategic customers and one of North America's leading branded food companies."
Americold — a publicly traded real estate investment trust focused on temperature-controlled warehouses — has started building the 131,000-SF cold storage and distribution facility at its existing Russellville site. It plans to complete the project by the end of next year.
The site already has more than 70 full-time employees.
Americold said it's expanding to accommodate one of its top clients, food giant Conagra Brands Inc. of Chicago. The expansion features high-bay automation — vertical storage that includes automated storage and retrieval systems the company said maximizes footprint efficiency and lowers energy costs. The high-bay system will add 13 million cubic feet of storage with about 42,000 pallet positions, the company said.
"With 10 facilities throughout the state including its Russellville site, Americold is a valued member of Arkansas' business community," Gov. Asa Hutchinson said in the release. "I'm pleased that Americold continues to have confidence in our business environment, and I wish them much success in the future."
"It is always a great day when one of our companies decides to continue investing in our communities and our economy, especially when that company is as familiar with Arkansas as Americold is," added Mike Preston, secretary of commerce and executive director of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
The AEDC said the company qualifies for two incentive programs: Tax Back, which provides sales tax refunds on building materials, taxable machinery and equipment associated with the project; and Advantage Arkansas, which provides a state income tax credit of 1% of total payroll. Americold also entered a payment in lieu of taxes agreement with the city to abate up to 65% of its property taxes for 20 years.
"The city of Russellville and the state of Arkansas have been working with Americold to facilitate this expansion in order to continue creating opportunities for our workforce and facilitating growth in our local economy," Mayor Richard Harris said. "I look forward to working with Americold for many more years to come."
In Arkansas, Americold has other facilities in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Lowell, North Little Rock, Springdale, Texarkana, West Memphis and Wheeler (Washington County). In all, it operates 238 temperature-controlled warehouses with more than 1.4 billion refrigerated cubic feet of storage around the world.