One of the nation’s largest grocery chains has announced a statewide effort that will create thousands of jobs in 2010.

Citing a renewed commitment to the challenges created from a down economy, H-E-B announced its “Invest In Texas” initiative on Jan. 6. The program seeks to “help families get back on their feet and inspire other Texas communities … to pump money in the state.”

H-E-B will open 13 new stores, including one in San Benito, and create 5,000 new jobs across Texas in 2010. The company will build a new distribution center in Temple, Texas, and will remodel and update more than 60 of its existing stores, creating thousands of new construction jobs within the next 12 months. Stores set to receive remodeling will be announced in the coming months, company officials said.

H-E-B will also invest in 11 manufacturing plants located in Texas that produce products including milk, ice cream and bread, and in its 17 Texas distribution centers that employ more than 5,000 Texans.

The formal announcement took place at the H-E-B McAllen 2 store on Trenton Road.

“We believe that H-E-B’s strong presence in Texas is one of the reasons Texans enjoy some of the lowest food prices in the nation. We are committed to low prices, and are now priced even better,” said Suzanne Wade, president of the H-E-B San Antonio Division. “In the New Year, customers will have additional opportunities to save as H-E-B again lowers prices on more than 5,000 products that Texas families use most.”

The savings campaign will include new signage and highly visible shelf tags calling out specific products and savings. Employees will be called “Low Price Ambassadors,” and will walk the store and point out new savings to customers and answer questions. At the register, cashiers will highlight customer savings.

“At H-E-B, we never forget it’s all about the customer. And today, we are putting an exclamation point on a longstanding commitment to low prices every day by offering even further reductions,” said Craig Boyan, H-E-B Chief Operating Officer. “We are proud to call Texas home and to help this great state with our continued economic and community investments.”

San Antonio-based H-E-B, employs more than 72,000 Partners and serves millions of customers in more than 150 communities. The company operates more than 300 stores in Texas and Mexico, including 15 stores in the Upper Valley.