Dietz & Watson expansion in Wissinoming underway

Breaking ground: City Councilman Bobby Henon presents a Council citation to Ruth “Momma Dietz” Eni during a ceremonial groundbreaking on Oct. 10.

Four months after Dietz & Watson announced a $50 million expansion of its Wissinoming headquarters, company officials joined Gov. Tom Corbett, Deputy Mayor Alan Greenberger, City Councilman Bobby Henon and other city leaders in a ceremonial groundbreaking on Oct. 10.

The ceremony came two days after state Sen. Mike Stack reported that Pennsylvania’s Redevelopment Capital Assistance Program would contribute $5 million to the project. In all, Dietz & Watson will receive at least $7.125 million in state grants and will be eligible for millions more in subsidized loans. The expansion will cover about 20 acres and include a new 200,000-square-foot national distribution center. It is expected to create 158 jobs in the city, while helping the city retain 691 existing jobs.

“Dietz and Watson is another Pennsylvania success story,” Corbett said. “It’s a company that is expanding and creating jobs right here in our commonwealth. By making strategic investments and working with local partners, we are encouraging job creators to ‘make it in PA,’ grow our economy and join us to build a stronger Pennsylvania.”

“Dietz and Watson is investing in the future of Northeast Philadelphia, and I’m pleased that Pennsylvania can reward that good faith with an investment in these jobs,” Stack said in announcing the RCAP grant.

An elaborate land transfer plan covering 73 acres in the area of Tacony and Carver streets made the project possible. Properties previously owned by the state and the city are part of the tract, along with a portion of the privately owned Frankford Arsenal business campus.

The assemblage will allow the deli meats and cheeses producer to acquire 20 acres adjacent to its existing 22-acre manufacturing facility and corporate headquarters at 5701 Tacony St. Meanwhile, 23 acres will be dedicated to a public boat launch, park, riverfront trails and open space, while the remaining 30 acres will remain available for future commercial or industrial development.

Henon helped to broker the deal along with the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation.

“I’m thrilled to have shovels in the ground so Dietz and Watson can expand right here in Tacony. They are a perfect example of how modern manufacturing has evolved while providing family-sustaining jobs,” said Henon, who presented a Council citation to Ruth “Momma Dietz” Eni, daughter of the founder of the business.

The family-owned company is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2014. Eni’s son, Louis Eni, is president and CEO. Though based in Philadelphia throughout its history, the company housed its national distribution operations in Delanco, N.J., until a September 2013 fire gutted the warehouse. Officials have not announced a target completion date for the new construction. ••