A 350,000-square-foot high-tech fulfillment center for the nation’s largest grocery retailer will bring about 500 jobs to Frederick County, according to an announcement from the county executive’s office.
The Kroger Co. announced plans Thursday to construct the center at 7106 Geoffrey Way, off Md. 85.
Kroger is partnering with the Ocado Group, the world’s largest online grocery retailer, which will provide and maintain the digital and robotic equipment used at the center. Together, the companies will automate the customer fulfillment center — also known as the “shed.”
The fulfillment center will be filled with robotics, and upon completion, will create 400 new jobs with up to 100 more added later as the service area expands, the press release said.
“This is excellent news for Frederick County,” County Executive Jan Gardner said in a news release. “We are thrilled to welcome Kroger and Ocado. Their high-tech innovative business will bring life to a vacant distribution facility, will add hundreds of new jobs, and make an investment of tens of millions of dollars in our community.”
Gardner added the county fast-tracked the permit process, and that they have added to the county’s e-commerce presence in the business community.
Helen Propheter, director of the county’s Office of Economic Development, said she was “thrilled” Kroger was coming to Frederick County but declined to answer further questions, citing a nondisclosure agreement between county officials and the company.
Kelly Schulz, the state’s secretary of commerce, said in a statement that Kroger’s decision is a win not just for the county, but the state.
“By operating in Maryland, our centralized location will provide this grocery partnership with convenient access to several highways and access to thousands of customers across the East Coast,” Schulz said.
According to news releases, county officials agreed to reduce permit fees by up to $150,000 for the project, and roughly $5 million in county commercial and industrial tax credits over the next 10 years. The state’s Department of Commerce provided a $2 million conditional loan through Advantage Maryland, formerly the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Authority and Fund.
Tim McGurk, regional director of corporate affairs for Kroger, said in an email the county’s e-commerce industry and officials’ help over the past few months were reasons they decided to come to Frederick County.
The intent is to keep the jobs local, but work will be offered to the most-qualified applicants, he added.
“This great location, with existing infrastructure, provides easy access to Maryland, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia,” McGurk wrote. “Kroger appreciates the partnership that was developed with the Frederick County team through the past few months. Their assistance navigating the permitting process is greatly appreciated.”
He added a groundbreaking date has not yet been set, but it would take roughly two years after groundbreaking to open the site.
State property records show that Toys R Us, the former tenant at the site, bought the property in August 1995 for $716,800. It closed its distribution center in early 2018 after Toys R Us announced it was closing all its stores, The Frederick News-Post previously reported.