SMITHFIELD, VA. — Smithfield Foods, Inc. has opened its new 500,000-square-foot distribution center in Tar Heel, N.C., creating 250 new jobs. The company invested more than $100 million in the facility and blast cell cold storage capabilities at its processing facility.

“We are experiencing an exciting time of growth, and this new distribution center will help us continue to optimize our footprint,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and chief executive officer of Smithfield Foods. “More than 10,000 Smithfield family members already call North Carolina home, and we’re proud that our investment in this project will create even more jobs. We look forward to welcoming new employees into our family.”

The Tar Heel distribution center features nearly 50,000 pallet positions and has an annual capacity of more than one billion lbs. Located adjacent to one of Smithfield’s pork processing facilities, the facility will optimize the company’s transportation and distribution network to lower fuel usage, cut transportation costs and improve delivery times, Smithfield said.

“This new distribution center exemplifies Smithfield’s unwavering commitment to continuously improving its operations,” said Dennis Organ, senior vice-president of supply chain for Smithfield Foods. “While providing best-in-class customer service, we’re reducing the distance our products travel, which shrinks our carbon footprint and positions us to achieve our long-term sustainability goals.”

The 250 new employees will join more than 5,000 currently employed at Smithfield’s Tar Heel facility. The distribution center has begun making shipments and will be fully operational by January 2019.