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Stop & Shop owner to build $100M facility, hire 700 in RI

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - The Dutch parent company of Stop & Shop plans to build a new $100-million meat processing facility in Rhode Island that will employ 700 people, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Monday.

Infinity Meat Solutions LLC, a subsidiary of Dutch food giant Ahold Delhaize USA, will be eligible for up to about $11 million in state tax incentives over the next 10 years as part of a deal approved Monday by the R.I. Commerce Corporation. It was one of four agreements the agency finalized at the meeting that will help bring more than 2,000 new jobs to the state, officials said.

The board also authorized up to $1 million in tax incentives for iXblue Defense Systems, a Natick-based maritime technology firm, to move more than 20 jobs to Rhode Island, and up to $260,000 for (add)ventures, a local marketing firm, to hire more staff. In addition, the board formally approved a previously announced deal for Electric Boat to expand its Quonset facility, with 1,300 new jobs promised there.

Raimondo, a Democrat seeking re-election this year, argued the new announcements show her administration's policies are paying dividends. “The progress we’ve made since 2014 hasn’t been an accident,” she said. “We made a tough choice to totally revamp our approach to job training and economic development.”

Roger Wheeler, president of the Ahold division that controls Infinity Meat Solutions, said the 200,000-square-foot plant would be “a state-of-the-art facility,” and said company officials “look forward to finalizing the details and breaking ground for this facility in the coming months.” The company has not yet said where it will be located.

Commerce spokesman Matt Sheaff said Rhode Island was “in direct competition with neighboring states” to land the new plant, though he declined to offer details. Stop & Shop is based in Quincy, Massachusetts.

“It’s not every day you can say by lunchtime on Monday you created 2,000 jobs,” Raimondo joked at the meeting. She emphasized that the four deals involve jobs at all education and skill levels.

The CEOs of the smaller companies also praised the state’s approach.

“I'm very impressed by how aggressive Rhode Island worked with us to offer us an extremely attractive package to move our operation to the Ocean State,” iXblue Defense Systems President Mack Barber said in a statement. Sheaff said iXblue has indicated more jobs could be added in Rhode Island, a hub for naval technology research, over time.

“Rhode Island has been our corporate home for more than 25 years, but it has not always been easy to grow a business here,” (add)ventures President and CEO Stephen Rosa said in a statement. “Like most Rhode Islanders, we never wanted to leave our state, but had to open hubs in cities like Miami to survive.” In recent years, state officials “have finally made it easier for companies like mine to create jobs and keep Rhode Islanders here,” he argued.

Not everyone praised the announcements. Giovanni Feroce, who is seeking the Republican nomination to challenge Raimondo this year, argued that she "has created a scenario in which only businesses that engage with Commerce RI ... and accept state money or tax credits will be given attention." He characterized her approach as "socialist."

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

Alexandra Leslie contributed to this report.


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