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The Kroger Co. is constantly investing in shopper experience and talent development initiatives, and a new project in southwestern Ohio is no exception.
The Cincinnati-based grocery giant won approval this week for a state tax credit to help finance its five-year, $46 million project that includes a new customer service and human resource center in the community of Blue Ash. Ohio’s tax credit authority approved a 65 percent state tax credit through 2024 as recommended by JobsOhio, the state’s private economic development arm, which also plans to give the grocer a grant or loan. Additionally, Blue Ash is giving Kroger a $700,000 grant toward the project.
The new 176,000-square-foot facility is expected to create about 650 jobs in the region. Expected to open in a few weeks, the Blue Ash facility will accommodate displaced employees from other closing area call centers.
“Kroger continues to innovate and invest to grow our business, and we are pleased to be able to do both in Ohio,” Mike Schlotman, Kroger’s senior VP and CFO, said in a statement. “The most exciting thing about being a growing company is that as Kroger expands, so do the opportunities for our associates. We created nearly 25,000 new jobs last year, including 600 here in the Cincinnati area. Our investments in Blue Ash will create more jobs and opportunity and help us take even better care of our customers.”
This center will handle such functions as recruitment for all Kroger stores, customers’ pharmacy and retail questions, and store-related queries from Kroger employees, and will house members of Kroger’s digital team that work on its mobile app, website and the click-and-collect operation being tested in Liberty Township, according to published reports.
Kroger does not expect to move any of the existing 2,000 jobs in Blue Ash or close any of its five existing office buildings in the town.
Additionally, Kroger is taking over a nearby dormant distribution center formerly operated by Nash Finch (now SpartanNash). Acquired by Kroger earlier this year, the 375,000-square-foot facility will handle frozen, refrigerated and dry goods. It’s expected to be operating in about a year.
This distribution center will take over a large portion of work currently handled by third-party facilities in Woodlawn, Ohio, and Shelbyville, Ind.
Kroger operates more than 2,600 stores in 34 states and the District of Columbia under several regional banners including Kroger, City Market, Dillons, Food 4 Less, Fred Meyer, Fry’s, Harris Teeter, Jay C, King Soopers, QFC, Ralphs and Smith’s.