Ben E. Keith Foods, a North Little Rock Company planning to expand its operations, requested the passage of a resolution by the City Council on July 28 so it can participate in tax back program.

"In order to be considered for participation in the Tax Back Program, the local government must endorse a business to participate in the Tax Back Program and benefit from the sales and use tax refunds as provided by the Consolidated Incentive Act of 2003," reads the resolution.

The resolution states that the tax breaks will aid the company for new construction and expansion of its facility which is to be located at the northwest corner of Interstate 440 and Highway 70 in North Little Rock.

In May, a $60 million expansion project by Ben E. Keith Foods was secured by Arkansas with the help of a $1.5 million U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grant to the City of North Little Rock.

The grant funds are be used by the city to make critical energy-related infrastructure improvements, including purchase of generators and necessary equipment for installation along the major North Little Rock intersection of Highway 70 and I-440.

The added energy capacity will serve not just the expanded Ben E. Keith Foods facility, but also other existing and future projects in the area.

At the moment, the grant award by the EDA and the resultant expansion project by the company will create 74 new jobs and help retain 260 existing jobs that pay an average hourly wage of $33.75.

Matt Erskine, EDA’s deputy assistant secretary of commerce, said that EDA’s investment will help revitalize a portion of North Little Rock that has gone underdeveloped for years by providing the energy capacity needed to support local businesses and attract new businesses and jobs to the area.

Governor Mike Beebe said they need infrastructure in place to accommodate growth as employers in Arkansas consider expansion, and added that the U.S. Economic Development Administration makes major expansions like this one possible.

North Little Rock Mayor Joe Smith attributed their successful efforts to secure the retention and expansion of the Ben E. Keith Regional Headquarters to three factors – the availability of a great site with superior transportation advantages; collaborative and innovative city, state and federal governments; and a cooperative company with a fantastic workforce.

Ben E. Keith Foods President Mike Roach said they are delighted at the progress of their plans to construct this state-of-the-art distribution center in North Little Rock.

The new facility will also serve as the company’s Mid-South Regional Headquarters, and additionally consolidates another facility they have at the Port of Little Rock.