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Del Monte expanding with state help

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Del Monte Fresh Produce Inc. is expected to expand its United States’ logistics network in May when it completes the purchase of the former Astro Power building in the Pencader Corporate Center in Newark.

The site, currently owned by the Christina School District, will be Del Monte’s most advanced distribution center.

Last week, the state’s Council on Development Finance approved the recommendation for a $259,000 performance grant to create approximately 30 jobs for the site and a three percent match of up to $654,000 for qualified capital expenditures.

Del Monte Fresh Produce will invest approximately $22 million in the 178,000-square-foot facility.

“We’re glad that Del Monte Fresh Produce chose Delaware as the strategic location to expand its operations,” Gov. John Carney said. “We’re very much looking forward to seeing the former site of AstroPower repurposed and come alive again, bringing with it new jobs to our state.”

AstroPower, which manufactured photovoltaic solar panels, declared bankruptcy in 2004 and sold some of its assets to GE Energy. The space has remained vacant ever since.

“We’re excited to commence our operation in the state of Delaware and tap into the workforce of the most populous county in the state with close proximity to the University of Delaware,” said Paul Rice, Del Monte’s senior vice president for operations. “Delaware is not only an ideal location for our company to further develop our robust Northeastern operations, but will also give us the ability to provide jobs and growth to the surrounding community.”

The facility will have a  fresh cut fruit, protein salad, a commissary production area, banana and avocado ripening rooms, refrigerated and dry warehouse space, loading docks, and office space.

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