by Dan Rafter
Whole Foods this week began construction of a new Midwest distribution center that will bring more than 100 new jobs to the South Side of Chicago and help the company better serve its growing roster of stores throughout the Midwest.
Whole Foods broke ground July 26 on a 150,000-square-foot Midwest distribution facility in Chicago’s Pullman neighborhood. The new facility, which is expected to open in the early days of 2018, will initially provide jobs for 150 people.
The new center will also play a large role in Whole Foods’ Midwest plans, providing distribution services to up to 70 of the grocer’s locations in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Iowa.
Whole Foods’ decision to build the center in the Pullman neighborhood makes sense. The location is close to major highways and will serve as a key part of the grocer’s plans to increase its presence in Chicago.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel at a ground-breaking ceremony said that the new distribution center is just one more positive for the South Side Pullman neighborhood.
“There is a renaissance happening in Pullman, and this Whole Foods center will only make it stronger,” Emanuel said. “By investing inour neighborhoods and supporting projects like this distribution center, we are creating economic opportunities for families throughout Chicago.”
Chicago’s gain, though, is Indiana’s loss. Whole Foods will close its existing Midwest distribution center in Munster, Indiana, with this move.
The Pullman distribution center will be twice the size of the one in Munster, and will occupy 17 acres of empty land owned by U.S. Bank. It is also just the latest bit of good news to hit this neighborhood. Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives has already invested $130 million in the neighborhood since 2011, including funds that helped transform the former Ryerson factory site into the Pullman Park retail center. That project has created more than 750 permanent jobs in Pullman. In 2015, Method Products built its first U.S. factory here. Construction is still taking place on a $15 million community center in the neighborhood, too.
“We are thrilled to begin construction of our new distribution center,” said Bobby Turner, Whole Foods Market Midwest regional vice president. “We’ve grown so much since opening our first Midwest store in Chicago in 1993 and as our growth continues, this distribution center helps us continue our mission of supporting the communities where we do business.”
Whole Foods is in the middle of an expansion on Chicago’s South Side. The grocer has recently opened a market in the Hyde Park neighborhood and will open a store in the Englewood neighborhood in the fall.
Ryan Companies US will build the distribution center. The new project is the third collaboration between Ryan Companies and Whole Foods.