June 12. 2014 9:57PM

Food firm will open distribution center in Seabrook

New Hampshire Union Leader

U.S. Foods will open a distribution center in Seabrook that will create an estimated 150 new jobs and transfer at least 120 current workers from a nearby Massachusetts distribution center, according to Seabrook Town Manager Bill Manzi.

“For me, the most important thing is bringing not only jobs, but high-quality jobs to the state of New Hampshire and to Seabrook,” Manzi said Thursday.

U.S. Foods announced plans to renovate the former Poland Springs building on Ledge Road and move its operations from Peabody, Mass., during the first quarter of 2015.

Last year, U.S. Foods received some initial local approvals to move to Seabrook before Sysco announced in December it was buying U.S. Foods for $3.5 billion. Manzi said that put the move on hold temporarily.

U.S. Foods currently runs a distribution center with 188,000 square feet in Peabody, Mass.

Manzi said he expects the company to transfer at least 120 current Peabody employees to Seabrook and hire an estimated 150 workers. He said the company also will make tens of millions of dollars worth of renovations to the building, which provides more than 500,000 square feet of space.

Manzi said building improvements will increase the building’s value and local tax revenues.

Michael Bergeron, business development manager for the New Hampshire Division of Economic Development, said U.S. Foods is moving into “a first-class warehouse distribution building” that has remained vacant for three or four years.

U.S. Foods is “going to be storing frozen food and other food products that will be received and reshipped out to local retail sites,” Bergeron said.

U.S. Foods, which has partnered with ESI Group to renovate the building, said the Seabrook site will provide dry and cold storage, fleet fueling and maintenance areas. Construction is expected to begin at the end of June.

Manzi said the company previously secured a zoning change as well as conditional planning board approval. The company still needs to provide architectural drawings and secure final planning board approval.

Bergeron said the company can get tax credits of up to $40,000 a year for up to six years against business taxes. U.S. Foods also may get some job training money, which is funded from interest drawn on the unemployment insurance trust fund.