Del Monte plans processing center in Pencader area

Northern Delaware will build on its prowess as a produce center with word that Del Monte will locate a processing center at a long-vacant site that once housed the headquarters of a solar power company and later a middle school that never opened.

DelawareOnLine.com reported Del Monte Fresh Producewill buy the facility at 300 Executive Drive in the Pencader Corporate Center and use it as a processing and packaging site that could employ between 300 and 500. Officials for Del Monte did not immediately respond to a request for comment on their plans.

It was not immediately known if the site will receive state assistance. The company was not listed on the agenda for the Delaware Council on Development Finance, which review such proposals.

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The buildingwas constructed as the headquarters for pioneering solar panel maker SolarPower, a company founded by a University of Delaware researcher. AstroPower later went belly up and sold some of its assets to General Electric, which later sold the business to Taiwan’s Motech. Motech no longer produces solar panels in Delaware.

Later, the building was sold to the Christiana School District for use as a middle school. Despite renovation work, the school never opened to changing attendance patterns and went back on the market as Delaware and the nation were going through a deep downturn. The building has long been vacant.

Del Monte operates worldwide has its headquarters in Coral Gable, FL. The company has a facility near the Philadelphia International Airport.

The Port of Wilmington is a leading inbound shipping point for produce, with a leadership position in bananas. Both Dole and Chiquita handle banana shipments from the port, with trucks bearing the logos of the two companies a common sight on area highways.

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