Alliant Foodservice, Inc., a subsidiary of Alliant Exchange, Inc. and one of the nation’s largest broadline foodservice distributors, will substantially increase its capabilities in the Little Rock, Arkansas market by building a state-of-the-art, $12 million distribution center on an 18.5-acre site in North Little Rock.

Construction of the 136,000-square-foot facility will begin this summer, and operations should begin in 2001, said Thomas F. Zani, Alliant Little Rock president. Unique in the market, the facility will have a fully temperature-controlled dock. It also will have a fully-equipped test kitchen that will be used for training seminars, presentations and product samplings. The kitchen will be available to suppliers and local chef and dietary associations.

The Little Rock project is one of a series of facility enhancements announced during the last six months by Alliant Foodservice and Alliant Exchange.

“We have ramped up our investment program in both technology and infrastructure to support our business-to-business e-commerce strategy,” said James E. Flanagan, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Alliant Foodservice. “Little Rock is a growth market for us, and service excellence through new facilities such as this is how we differentiate ourselves. Our name stands for speed and reliability.”

“The new distribution center will have far greater capacity than our current facility and features that will help us to serve our customers and potential customers more efficiently than anyone else in the market,” Zani said. “The temperature-controlled dock will provide the conditions we need to best handle produce and temperature-sensitive products, and the additional land gives us the capability of doubling the size of the facility in the future.”

The Arkansas Department of Economic Development and the City of North Little Rock were instrumental in Alliant’s decision to locate on the site. Upon completion, Alliant’s area workforce is expected to grow about 20% from its current 140 associates.

Alliant’s existing facility, located at 2200 Commercial Lane in Little Rock, has been in operation since 1955. The Little Rock market serves a territory that includes the entire state of Arkansas and parts of Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

Alliant Exchange is one of the nation’s largest business-to-business e-commerce and information exchange companies, with total sales of more than $6 billion. The company, one of the largest privately held enterprises in the U.S., has three operating subsidiaries — Alliant Foodservice, Inc., a leading broadline foodservice distributor; The Drescher Corporation, a foodservice predistribution company; and, Inc., an Internet-based service that provides 24/7 access to a catalog of more than 165,000 foodservice items, equipment, related supplies and value-added services.