NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - A big new building opened today in North Little Rock.
Ben E. Keith, the area’s leading food distributor, has 430-thousand square feet to work with now.
North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith calls the center the largest building he's ever seen. He and other local leaders took time to celebrate the effort that went into keeping the company here in Central Arkansas.
“We saved 250 jobs and hopefully they're going to add another 100 or two,” said Smith.
He and others are working to pour into the future of an entire city and state.
“Whenever you have a large distribution facility and they want to expand, they have multiple states they can go to in this region,” Governor Asa Hutchinson added.
The new addition sits on the east side of North Little Rock and is being called "an economic game changer”.
“It’s really great for the hundreds of employees that work here, their future and their families. But it also shows that we can bring technically advanced companies to Arkansas and this is a good home for them. We have the skilled workforce to support it,” said Hutchinson.
He thinks the addition will continue to help Arkansas compete nationwide and globally.
The new facility is double the size of previous locations.
“The exciting thing is that Ben E. Keith decided to stay in Central Arkansas to expand their company,” Smith said. He expects the company to continue growing over the next few years, positively impacting the restaurant business, state economy and success of North Little Rock for decades to come.
“My job as the Mayor of the city of North Little Rock is to create an atmosphere where we can have companies like this that will employ our citizens,” he added.
Arkansas had to compete for the new addition and prove to the brand that the state's workforce, local and state government were a good fit.
“Partnership is a big thing for us at Ben E. Keith. Our customers are in a tough business, they're in a tough industry. To play in a role in that is our honor,” said President of Ben E. Keith Foods, Mike Sweet.
The company is one of two major food distributors in the Arkansas, serving mainly restaurants and commercial kitchens. The general public can buy items in bulk from the customer will-call center.