International retailer coming to the Midlands

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – On Friday, the Texas-based Whole Foods store announced that they will open in the capital city, bringing hundreds of jobs and healthier eating to Columbia.

This is a big deal on several levels, as a major retailer of natural and organic foods.

First, it marks a major shot in the arm for retail activity in the area around Devine and Fort Jackson Boulevard, where an old Kroger store has sat vacant for years.

Second, it will create 300 jobs with more than half of them full-time.

Whole Foods will anchor a larger shopping development there to be known as Cross Hill Market.

"We will promise you that Cross Hill Market will be reflective of the City of Columbia," said Terry Brown, CEO of Edens and Avant .

According to Columbia City Councilman, Daniel Rickenmann, he thinks the community at large will be overwhelmed with what they see.

Developers began talking about trying to attract Whole Foods to Columbia more than eight years ago and the fact that the chain has finally decided to open a store here is an indication the Capital City is growing to compete with places like Charlotte and Atlanta.

"We sort of raise the bar a bit for other competitors to try to compete," said Scott Allshouse of Whole Foods.

Even though, Columbia already has other stores specializing in natural and organic foods, Whole Foods could provide stiff competition for those customers.

Construction on the $23 million dollar Cross Hill Market project gets underway after the first of the year and is expected to open October 2012.

Copyright 2011 WIS. All rights reserved.