Supermarket chain Aldi on Tuesday officially opened a massive regional headquarters and distribution center on the Alabama coast, promising more stores and more jobs to come.
“At Aldi, we really try hard and we have a very strong commitment to everyone we serve to provide the best quality products at amazing prices,” said Heather Moore, Aldi’s Divisional Vice President. “With inflation and soaring food prices, we all read the news, we know this message is more relevant now than ever. And that fuels our expansion across the United States. We continue to expand coast to coast. But this facility is really a particularly important piece of that puzzle.”
The new hub will bring Aldi stores within reach of “about 8 million Gulf Coast citizens,” Moore said.
It has been a little over two and a half years since the chain announced its plans to build its headquarters and hub in an industrial and warehouse area north of I-10 exit 44, where the Ala. 59 crossing the highway. The company broke ground on the 150-acre site in February 2021 and said it was a $100 million investment.
At the time, a company representative said Aldi had already purchased 24 locations scattered from Baton Rouge to Tallahassee. Since then, Aldi has opened three new stores in Mobile and two in Baldwin County, with another opening planned for March in Fairhope.
Moore said the company opened 20 stores in the region in 2022 and is aiming to open 13 more in 2023. Other than the almost-completed Fairhope store, no other openings are planned for Mobile and Baldwin counties this year — although a fourth Baldwin store may be announced by the end of the year, she said.
The new facility currently serves 30 stores and is expected to service around 100, Moore said, expanding its area to Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Starkville (Miss Hub in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee, she said.) The new hub is Aldi’s 26th in the United States and the sixth in the Southeast. The warehouse side opened in July, she said, and the offices are now complete.
“We currently have 120 employees out here, we’ve created so many jobs, and we look forward to continuing to hire until we reach our full scale-out, which will include 200 full-time positions here in Loxley,” Moore said. “And every time we open another store, we create another 15 to 20 jobs in each of those communities.”
Moore said Aldi’s entry into the territory was marked by strong support from officials at the local, county and state levels. She gave officials downward praise to Gov. Kay Ivey – whose scheduled appearance was canceled due to weather-related travel concerns. Aldi is “grateful to everyone who helped take this from blueprint to reality,” she said.
“I think it was three years ago when these talks started,” she said. “When we met with the people of Loxley, when we met with Baldwin County officials, when we met with the state of Alabama, we knew this was going to be an amazing partnership, and we’re so lucky that we decided to invest our money here.”
Among the officers who spoke was Ala. Rep. Matt Simpson, who said he’s gone from someone who knew nothing about Aldi and its quirks — like customers depositing a quarter to open a shopping cart — to someone who shops there multiple times a week. “Now we are Aldi people,” he said of his family.
“I want to thank you for believing in us,” he told Moore. I want to thank you for believing in Baldwin County and putting your trust in us.”
Loxley Mayor Richard Teal also said he had to ask, “Who is Aldi?” when the project first came up. “We had lunch over at Kravers’ and see how it turned out,” he said.
According to information previously released by the Baldwin County Economic Development Alliance, the incentives received from the project include 10-year rebates on ad valorem non-educational property taxes with an estimated value of $1.3 million for Loxley, 2.09 million dollars for Baldwin County and $770,000 for the state. An additional sales and use tax credit is estimated at $3 million. The Alliance estimated the net benefit to schools at $8 million in unreduced ad valorem taxes and $1.5 million in sales and use taxes. It also projects a $15 million direct impact on local tax revenues and a similar impact on payrolls per year.
Figures from the Alabama Department of Commerce add to the other incentives a five-year job loan worth $463,000 and AIDT training services worth $777,000. The state estimates its return at $8.3 million in new government revenue over 20 years and $88.3 million in new salaries over 20 years.