National Freight Industries (NFI), a fully integrated supply chain provider headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J., will be bringing 126 jobs to Weisenberg Township, Lehigh County. NFI is moving operations into a soon-to-be-constructed 980,000-square-foot building that will be used for warehouse and distribution services tied to the new Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc. facility in neighboring Upper Macungie Township.
The NFI distribution operation, which represents a total investment of more than $60 million by NFI and Hillwood Properties, will be located in the West Hills Business Center. The site will allow NFI to not only service its Ocean Spray contract, but also handle future growth. The long-term contract between NFI and Ocean Spray allows both companies to increase their presence in the Lehigh Valley.
“The NFI distribution operation represents a major investment by NFI and Hillwood of more than $60 million into our local economy; it also brings about the creation of 126 new jobs,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation. “The creation of jobs and a broader tax base is the essence of economic development – as well as a nice addition to the Lehigh Valley community. This economic boost is in addition to the huge impact the Ocean Spray facility will bring to Lehigh Valley.”
NFI is a privately held company that generates more than $1 billion annually and employs nearly 6,500 individuals. The company is a global force that has more than 20 million square feet of warehouse and distribution space, along with about 2,000 trucks and 7,000 trailers. NFI is a leader in logistics, distribution, warehousing, intermodal, real estate and solar service.
NFI officials said their local investment includes about $9.5 million for machinery, equipment and training. The new facility is expected to be completed by the end of 2013 – just in time for the opening of the Ocean Spray bottling facility.
NFI is the first building in the West Hills Business Center, which was developed by Hillwood Properties, a Texas-based development company, owned by Ross Perot, Jr. Hillwood worked with Lehigh County, Weisenberg Township and the Northwestern Lehigh School District on the creation of a Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) District, which financed $13.1 million for public infrastructure improvements to make the development possible. The TIF will last 20 years with 50 percent of new tax revenues during that period pledged to finance the infrastructure.
“This development would not have occurred without an outstanding public-private partnership,” Cunningham said. “This TIF was created for the West Hills Business Center to assist in needed off-site and on-site infrastructure improvements. The county, the township and the school district made it happen with their cooperation and support.”
Public infrastructure improvements for the project include expanding and improving a wastewater plant, assisting to rebuild section of state Route 863 and the access ramps to and from Interstate 78 and repairs to the bridge over Route 22.
LVEDC provided staff support to the Lehigh County Industrial Development Authority, which developed the TIF program. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania through the Governor’s Action Team also provided incentive financing to the NFI project.
Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) is a one-stop, full-service business and economic development agency. Created to promote and foster economic prosperity in the Lehigh Valley, LVEDC assists businesses by providing them with regional, economic and demographic information, finance and business incentives, site and facility availability, business networking, and workforce services. By coordinating with state, county, and municipal governments, chambers of commerce, industry organizations, educational institutions and utilities, the award-winning LVEDC streamlines the relocation and expansion process for businesses. Visit LVEDC online at www.lehighvalley.org.