The Houston-based SYSCO is the largest marketer and food service
distributor in the United States.
The new 353,00-square-foot distribution center will serve about
5,000 businesses and organizations in parts of five states including
Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia.
SYSCO's customers include restaurants, schools, hospitals, hotels
and many other establishments that prepare food for consumers.
"Today is a significant day for the City of Knoxville and
for SYSCO Corporation," said Tommy Dail, president and chief
executive officer of Sysco Food Services of Knoxville. "We
are very excited about this location and creating a physical presence
here in Knoxville."
The distribution center will be built in what was once Coster Shop,
a rail service yard operated for many years by Norfolk Southern.
The City of Knoxville bought the property from the railroad before
environmentally reclaiming the 44-acre site and making improvements
that enabled it to be developed.
"For a long time when you came down I-275 here you saw an
abandoned rail facility where nothing was going on and it looked
like nothing ever would," Haslam said. "But today marks
a new beginning for this property and for the entire I-275 corridor."
"Soon, when you drive down I-275, you see a thriving business
here at the northern entrance to a great city," he added.
Also involved in the effort that led to Thursday's groundbreaking
celebration were the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community
Development, which provided state tax credits and infrastructure
improvements; the Knoxville Chamber which worked to bring SYSCO
to Knoxville and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, which
provided a $500,000 grant to improve and extend the Tennessee Avenue
entrance to the I-275 Business Park.
Both Haslam and Dail thanked representatives from all the groups
that worked together to bring the distribution center to Knoxville.
"We looked at many sites in and around East Tennessee before
making a decision. We chose this location for two primary reasons,"
Dail said. "First and foremost, the attractive business climate
created by the folks I just mentioned. Second and just as important,
the proximity to many of our loyal customers and the interstate
system at our front door."
The distribution center is expected to be open by early 2008.