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Industry Focus: Food Processing – The Process Of Consistency

By Julianne Feaver
From the May/June 2014 issue

Consumers often remain ignorant of the process that it takes for products to reach their final state. This, however, does not take away its importance. The food processing industry works to convert raw materials, such as grains, dairy products and meats, to processed food. It mostly involves chemically slowing down or stopping the natural processes of decay. Much of the foods found in grocery stores have been processed, and the industry remains one of the largest in the United States.

Food processing can improve the taste, look and demand of different food products. It makes the appearance and taste of the product more universally consistent, meeting the expectation of the consumer. A certain food product would look and taste considerably different each time without food processing, which would lead to inconsistency and would be considered unsatisfactory.

As the food processing industry continues to advance, more and more foods can be available to a larger population. This creates better nutritional opportunities for the consumer for lower prices and easier availability. Since it also can make certain foods available all year long, the diverse diet and specific personal taste often expected in the modern society is made possible with food processing.

It also makes food preparation a much less time-consuming task. The time it would take to cook a meal consisting only of raw materials would be much too long for the busy lives of most Americans. However, with food processing, meals can be cooked faster and still taste delicious and contain most of the health benefits of the foods they are made from.

What arguably is the most important benefit of food processing is the ability to lengthen a food’s shelf life. This aids in long-distance transportation as well as long-time storage. Certain processed foods that remain unopened can sit in storage for months or even years before they become inedible. This makes these foods more convenient and safe to eat after long periods of time.

Overall, the food processing industry is largely necessary in today’s society. Without food processing, many foods consumers are accustomed to would no longer be available, therefore making the food processor’s job extremely important. In order to manage effective food processing, food processors must consider facilities that will be up to par with their business. Here are a few that make the cut.

FOOD PROCESSING FLOURISHES IN PUBLIC-POWER INDIANA COMMUNITIES

Public power communities across Indiana are fertile ground for advanced agriculture products, both for food and beverage manufacturing. As a state, Indiana is home to more than 60,000 farms, producing diverse commodities including soybeans, corn, animal feed, pork and poultry. Food-related manufacturing is present in many of the public power communities across the state, largely because the communities have a low cost of operation and a wealth of infrastructure to aid in the production process. Indiana’s robust transportation network for trucking, rail and air freight make it an attractive location to distribute food and beverage products to both national and international markets. Moving products from Indiana is both expedient and cost-effective.

Indiana Packers

Indiana Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Mayor Chris McBarnes join Indiana Packers executives to announce a new facility in Frankfort, IN. (Photo: Indiana Municipal Power Agency.)

The Indiana Municipal Power Agency provides wholesale power to 59 municipalities that are located across the state of Indiana, and they are largely located in or surrounded by rural areas within the state. Competitive electric costs, coupled with the convenience of responsive local utilities, have helped foster an environment where companies want to invest.

Companies like Nestle (Anderson), Pace Dairy (Crawfordsville), Frito Lay (Frankfort), Farbest Foods (headquartered in Huntingburg) and Archer Daniels Midland (Frankfort) have recently expanded operations in these communities. Additionally in 2014, the City of Frankfort already has announced the location of two food processing companies to the City. ConAgra Foods selected Frankfort for a new 1.6 million-square-foot distribution center, and the company currently operates a fruit and vegetable preserving and specialty food manufacturing facility in the City of Rensselaer. Most recently, Indiana Packers Corporation, a subsidiary of Japan-based Mitsubishi Corporation, announced that it plans to locate a second Indiana facility in the City of Frankfort. The company cited the location and strong workforce as to why Frankfort was selected for this investment. In fact, the City of Frankfort recently announced that its focus is to continue to be a “strong food manufacturing leader,” according to Mayor Chris McBarnes.

IMPA communities work closely with the state of Indiana, which has embraced its agriculture industry as a foundational part of the Indiana economy. To support industry, the state has focused on a business-friendly tax structure and regulatory policies. Indiana is a “Right to Work” state and, in recent years, has enacted constitutional property tax caps and reduced the state’s corporate income tax. There also is an emphasis on workforce training initiatives that focus on manufacturing to help ensure that there is a strong pipeline of a skilled manufacturing force well into the future.

OSWEGO COUNTY: ACCESS WITH PROXIMITY AND CONVENIENCE

Situated in Upstate New York, Oswego County is located centrally to New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Cleveland, Toronto and Montreal. Yet, Oswego County has more to offer than the logistical advantage of being within hours of every major Northeast market. Oswego County has the available industrial labor, infrastructure, import/export capabilities and supply chain for growth in the food manufacturing sector.

Oswego County has a skilled and ready workforce with many workers experienced in food processing. More than 30 institutes of higher learning and vocational training are within 50 miles to support the workforce. Economic development partners, such as The Workforce Development Board of Oswego County, create opportunities to bring workers and employers together and collaborate with colleges and vocational schools to encourage the development of courses that enhance workers’ skills and meet the needs of employers.

Oswego County offers convenient access to Interstate 81 and Interstate 90 for north/south and east/west movement. Over 25 carriers provide both local and long-distance trucking to and from Oswego County. Connecting lines enable transport to every major U.S. market. Local carriers provide transloading from truck to rail and offer myriad warehouse storage options, including dry, climate controlled and frozen.

Oswego County is home to the Port of Oswego, a deep water port on the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario. It is the first port of call on the Great Lakes within the St. Lawrence Seaway. As a hub in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System, it is part of over 2,300 miles of water transportation from Duluth, Minnesota to the Atlantic Ocean. The Port of Oswego provides on-dock rail and truck loading, making for a smooth transition of goods to market.

CSX offers daily rail transportation to Oswego County. In addition to rail access at the Port, service is available throughout the County, with direct access at several sites and industrial parks. With a nearby regional switching yard, CSX provides access to more than 21,000 miles of track in 23 states and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, plus 70 ocean, lake and river ports. Coupled with nationwide transloading and warehousing, CSX makes rail a very viable transportation option for Oswego County businesses.

The Oswego County Airport offers two 5,200-foot paved runways ideal for business, industry and private aviation. Syracuse Hancock International Airport is within minutes of Oswego County. In addition to worldwide passenger transport, Hancock has facilities for air freight transport including a 53,000-square-foot cargo building.

Oswego County offers many options for multimodal transport of raw materials, parts and products. The various combinations of transport are useful for materials import and product export. As a designated Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ), Oswego County is designed for the convenient and cost effective production of goods.

Many food processing facilities require water for processing. Oswego County offers high quality potable water and available capacity for industrial waste water treatment. Depending on your location, you could tap into nearly limitless water from Lake Ontario or access up to 10,000,000 gallons available daily from the designated water authority. There also are several options for water treatment including municipal treatment and a private treatment facility with over 5,000,000 gallons of excess capacity.

Oswego County has Greenfield sites available that are ready to build on. Within the industrial parks, all sites have utilities and other necessary infrastructure in place. Some sites within the parks have had comprehensive site profiles performed. These profiles detail the site conditions, available infrastructure and provide development options suitable for that site. They expedite the selection process by eliminating much of the due diligence work for the potential purchaser.

Over the last two years, three companies have purchased existing facilities and have expanded their food processing ventures into Oswego County.

Champlain Valley Specialty (CVS) of NY, in the Town of Oswego, acquired the former Empire Fresh Cuts and Oswego Growers & Shippers buildings, totaling 100,000 square feet. This established their apple processing facility closer to their suppliers and their market. CVS produces “Grab Apples” from locally grown apples that are sliced, packaged and shipped to local schools, retail markets, restaurants and their distributors.

Teti Bakery USA, Inc., is the newly formed U.S. subsidiary of Teti Bakery, based in Toronto, Canada. Teti Bakery’s 200,000-square-foot acquisition, in the Town of Volney, is their first U.S. facility and is strategically located for product distribution in the Northeast and along the Atlantic coast. Teti makes Italian bread products that are sold in supermarkets and restaurants.

Most recently, K&N’s Foods USA, LLC, acquired the 280,000-square-foot former BirdsEye plant in the City of Fulton. They will manufacture a wide variety of frozen valued-added Halal chicken products, under the brand license from K&N’s Foods Limited, Pakistan. This is the first North American facility for K&N’s, a popular international brand.

For more information about Oswego County, contact L. Michael Treadwell, Executive Director of Operation Oswego County, Inc., at (315) 343-1545.

ARKANSAS IS A NATURAL FOR FOOD PROCESSING BUSINESS

Arkansas favors bold company leaders who want a central location and comprehensive transportation infrastructure that will allow them to get their products to consumers quickly and efficiently.

Arkansas favors the bold by offering companies a strong transportation network with intersecting interstates, rail access and water transportation. That infrastructure, combined with an affordable and qualified workforce and a favorable business climate, make the state an ideal location for businesses wanting to easily move bulk commodities and consumer goods.

In Arkansas, leaders will find:

  • 1,000 miles of navigable waterways
  • 1,677 miles of class 1 railroads
  • 16,416 miles of state and U.S. highways

Arkansas has the tools that help businesses succeed. Just look at the six homegrown Fortune 500 companies headquartered in the state: Dillard’s, JB Hunt, Murphy Oil, Tyson Foods, Windstream and Wal-Mart Stores— the world’s largest retailer.

One of these tools—the central location—makes getting your products to worldwide markets easier and more cost-efficient than ever before. When shipping on land, Interstate 40 runs from North Carolina on the east to California on the west and runs straight through the middle of Arkansas. Interstate 30 provides easy access to markets and ports in the southwest, including Texas and Mexico. There also is Arkansas’s state-of-the-art railroad infrastructure comprising three Class I systems: Union Pacific, BNSF Railway and Kansas City Southern Railway. Union Pacific operates major yards in Little Rock and Pine Bluff, along with a locomotive repair facility in North Little Rock. Arkansas also has 22 smaller railroads operating over its more than 2,700 miles of track.

“Having lived in Arkansas for over 20 years and having been involved in building and operating two other world class steel mills in the state, I know first-hand that the quality of the workforce in Arkansas is outstanding and well suited for the high-paying jobs we intend to create,” said John Correnti, CEO of Big River Steel which is constructing a $1-billion steel mill in Arkansas. “Arkansas’ geographic location in the heart of the markets we intend to serve, the state’s well-developed transportation infrastructure as well as the availability of reliable electrical power and the ‘can do attitude’ of the government officials in Little Rock, Mississippi County and Osceola make Arkansas a great place for Big River Steel to make its investment.”

If you prefer other modes of distribution make note of the two major commercial airports in Central and Northwest Arkansas as well as the commercial passenger service available at six regional airports throughout the state. And, a network of water transportation along the Arkansas River contains ports in Little Rock, North Little Rock, Pine Bluff and Fort Smith, in addition to Mississippi River terminals in Osceola, West Memphis and McGehee.

In an effort to help businesses looking to relocate to Arkansas, the Arkansas Economic Development offers two initiatives that catalog available sites: Arkansas Site Selection and Advance Arkansas Sites.

Arkansas currently has 538 buildings and 311 sites available at www.ArkansasSiteSelection.com, a collaborative effort between the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and Entergy Arkansas Inc. The site features interactive maps, a database of buildings and sites, detailed and up-to-date demographics and business data to allow users to conveniently analyze and evaluate potential sites and communities.

Companies requiring large acreage can access Advance Arkansas Sites online. Advance Arkansas Sites are premium, large-acre sites that meet Arkansas’s highest standards of quality. Ready for rapid industrial development, each site features the acreage, ownership, utility and transportation infrastructure worthy of “Advance Arkansas Sites” distinction.

Two large-acreage sites, the Little Rock Metro Mega Site and West Memphis Mega Site, are currently featured on www.AdvanceArkansasSites.com. Each location lists property information, demographics and workforce information to educate prospective businesses on the economic and environmental landscape of Arkansas. The Little Rock Metro Mega Site is located in Saline County in Central Arkansas and is 2,045 acres. The West Memphis Mega Site is located in East Arkansas along the Mississippi River and is 1,420 acres. All preliminary work such as extending utilities, rail, water and sewer is complete at both sites which are “ready to go and ready to market.”

Employers throughout the state consistently give favorable ratings to Arkansas workers for their work ethic, skills, productivity and low turnover rates. You should have little problems in recruiting quality, reliable workers to meet your needs. Arkansas’s labor force is nearly 1.5 million strong and projected to grow 6.98 percent between 2008 and 2018.

The state’s 44 colleges, universities and technical institutes work closely with local employers to create company-specific training programs, ensuring all Arkansas companies have a strong, educated workforce in place.

“The business climate in Arkansas has proven to be the easiest, most welcoming and accommodating of any we have experienced,” said Enviro Tech President and CEO Mike Harvey. “The outstanding Arkansas employees have proven to be one of Enviro Tech’s most valuable assets, and everyone we have worked with at both the state and local level has made it clear to us that a California business such as Enviro Tech is a welcome partner in the state and local economy. We cannot recommend it more highly for future new businesses as a viable place to do business.”

Arkansas’ incentives are nationally competitive, understandable and easy to use. Arkansas works with new and existing industries and will focus on each business’ specific needs to provide a tailored incentive proposal for the project.

Project managers at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission are eager to speak with you and take you on a tour of an appropriate available site. Please call 1-800-ARKANSAS or visit www.arkansasedc.com to start your Arkansas success story.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY, NJ: LONG-TIME FOOD PROCESSING HUB

Situated in the heart of the Northeast Corridor, one of the premier markets and manufacturing centers in the world, Cumberland County offers a combination of assets that are not found anywhere else in the region. With great proximity to places such as New York, Washington, Atlantic City and Philadelphia, the County provides an un-congested environment, outstanding quality of life, affordable land and property and easy access to world-class entertainment.

Twice voted one of the “best places to live in New Jersey” by Money magazine, Cumberland County offers affordable housing, an economical business location to excellent highways and rail service, a competitive regulatory climate and an abundance of beautiful natural resources, unspoiled towns and villages and picturesque scenery. This combination of assets is extremely rare and makes Cumberland County an excellent commercial and industrial destination.

Cumberland County supplies the area’s best incentive package, accessible and affordable sites and the region’s most available and hardworking labor force. A Federal Empowerment Zone designation, two Urban Enterprise Zones, flexible financing and low business costs make Cumberland County competitive with all areas of the country. In addition there is some of the finest executive housing available at very reasonable costs. Lastly, a quality educational system, which produces highly trained and capable students, employees and citizens, makes Cumberland County a great place to do business.

Progresso is one of the oldest names in South Jersey manufacturing, and thanks to innovation and growth it remains one of the most successful. The Vineland, NJ plant makes millions of cases of soups each year at its facility on West Elmer Road.

In this past year, the Vineland plant implemented parent company General Mills’ program to improve the environmental sustainability of its operations by 2015. The corporation set several goals in 2005 and made them more ambitious in 2010: reducing packaging volume 40 percent; using 35 percent less fuel for shipping; reducing solid waste by half; cutting greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent; and reducing water and energy usage 20 percent each.

The General Mills Vineland Progresso plant made progress toward those final two goals in the past year, including water recycling used in the can cooling process. The plant designed and installed a system to reuse the cooling water and recapture the heat from the cans of cooked soup. The system saves about 56 million gallons of water a year, reducing the plant’s usage of city water about 15 percent.

Conserving heat saves 57 billion BTUs of energy per year, cutting the plant’s usage 16 percent and avoiding the equivalent of about 3,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, according to a report in PressofAtlanticCity.com.

Seabrook Brothers & Sons, a vegetable production company located in Upper Deerfield Township, processes and freezes approximately 150 million pounds of vegetables every year. Raw materials come from some of their crops on site as well as from New Jersey farmers in the area.

Under the name Seabrook Farms, Seabrook Brothers & Sons sells various frozen vegetable products. They additionally supply items for food service companies and private-label retail sales. Some of their international exports include: Israel, Chile, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Bermuda and Canada.

The Upper Deerfield Township facility of Seabrook Farms features a 21-acre solar panel array to maintain business efficiency while also remaining environmentally friendly, according to an article on NJ.com.

F&S Produce is another company specializing in food processing with facilities in Cumberland County. As a privately held company, their two facilities located in Rosenhayn, NJ have, in total, over 125,000 square feet of space.

Currently, F&S Produce processes over 100 million pounds of fresh-cut fruits and vegetables annually at their southern New Jersey facilities. With the food industry’s ever-increasing demand for fresh-cut ingredients, F&S Produce has the capacity to supply customers with customized cuts, sizes and packages for their further production. In addition to fresh-cut fruits, F&S Produce also processes frozen, pureed and brined food products.

VINELAND, NJ: DISCOVER THE DIFFERENCE

Located in the heart of the northeast corridor, Vineland, New Jersey, offers both an affordable business location and an excellent quality of life. Vineland may be best known as the original home of Welch’s Fruit Juice, the forerunner of the internationally known Welch’s Grape Juice Company. Today, the city offers a winning location for a diversified group of regional and international food processing and agri-business companies including General Mills/Pillsbury, Bridor USA, Hanover Foods Corporation, Rich Products Corporation, Allied Specialty Foods, Inc., RFC Container Company and Russo Farms, and the Omni Baking Company.

The city also is home to the Vineland Produce Auction, which is the largest farmer’s cooperative on the east coast of the United States and serves as an assembly and distribution point for a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition to serving the needs of 550 local growers, the market also provides a network of broker, buyer and wholesale activities to numerous domestic and international markets including Canada and the Caribbean Basin.

Vineland is conveniently located along New Jersey Route 55, providing a quick and direct connection to the Atlantic City Expressway, the New Jersey Turnpike, and Interstates 95 and 295. These arteries link the city with major markets along the east coast including Philadelphia, Wilmington, Baltimore, Washington D.C. and New York City. Vineland also offers competitive rail service via the Winchester & Western and Conrail freight services to destinations across the United States and Canada. Additionally, freight air service and deep water port facilities, both of which include a Foreign Trade Zone, are just a short drive away.

Vineland officials are committed to progressive economic development programs and policies designed to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit, attract new capital investment and promote a healthy and profitable business climate. Per acre land prices, commercial rental rates, construction and labor costs are generally lower than most other northeast locations. Companies locating in Vineland also benefit from low cost electric, water, and sewerage rates through the Vineland Municipal Utilities and Landis Sewerage Authority. In addition, businesses will find a well-established network of support services, technical expertise, and resources including a variety of state and local financial incentives, a diversified labor pool, customized workforce education and training, and a designated Urban Enterprise Zone.

Vineland features a number of partner industries critical to the success of food processing operations including several expanding freezer and cold storage facilities which ensure food products reach retail markets in excellent condition. Companies such as Lucca’s Cold Storage, Townsend Farms, Safeway Freezer Storage and First Choice Freezers provide frozen storage facilities, and repackage bulk shipments for brokers of fresh fruits and produce from as far away as New Zealand, Chile, Africa, Spain and Israel. These repackaged products are then shipped to retail grocery stores across the country.

Food Processing Baked Goods

Omni Baking produces a variety of frozen baked and par-baked bread products for national distribution at their 170,000-square-foot facility in Vineland. (Photo: City of Vineland.)

Once the food is processed, you need to get it to the stores. Food processing and other agri-business companies will find a number of large and small trucking firms in Vineland which carry market-ready food products to locations throughout the United States. Companies including Bradway Trucking, Levari Trucking, Brunozzi Transfer, Inc. and Santelli Trucking, Inc. transport canned and bottled foods and beverages, dry food products and frozen and temperature-controlled foods in modern dry and refrigerated trailers.

The City of Vineland Economic Development Department is a catalyst for public and private initiatives that create growth opportunities and new jobs. The department serves as a single resource and point of contact for companies, site selectors, brokers, corporate real estate executives and entrepreneurs looking to start-up, expand, or relocate. As your liaison to city government, the department staff is prepared to assist you at every stage of the process, including:

  • Identifying sites and existing building locations
  • Walking you through the permitting process
  • Developing incentive packages and sources of capital
  • Connecting you with elected officials, business leaders and brokers
  • Providing technical, site selection and market analysis assistance
  • Helping your business with workforce development opportunities

Vineland is a culturally diverse community filled with wonderful, giving people and tremendous civic pride. Its small town atmosphere, quality schools and community services, and abundant open space mean Vineland is also an excellent place to live and raise a family. In fact, Vineland was named one of the top 10 most affordable small cities for housing according to the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo; and was recently selected as “the garden-est city” in New Jersey according to the national real estate website Movoto.com.

Discover what sets Vineland apart. Its proximity to millions of potential customers, low cost of doing business, a business friendly attitude, and an outstanding quality of life make Vineland an attractive place to expand your current operations or start an entire new enterprise.

Tap into the resources…It’s all here waiting for you.

For more information, please contact the City of Vineland Director of Economic Development, Sandy Forosisky at (856) 794-4100.

HEMP, MELONS AND JOB GROWTH IN COLORADO’S SOUTHEASTERN PLAINS

Southeastern Colorado has traditionally been known as the breadbasket for Colorado. But a decade long drought and a listeria scare in 2011 has caused the agriculture business in Southeastern Colorado to struggle over the past few years. Fewer acres are being planted and technology is replacing farm jobs causing the populations in cities and towns in the region to shrink. However, the City of La Junta and surrounding towns are bouncing back by establishing themselves as a great place to do business, especially for food processing. Manufacturing, produce processing and hemp processing are all hot topics on the eastern plains of Colorado.

Manufacturing: A local company, Oliver Manufacturing, is leading this resurgence with its line of food processing equipment. Oliver is a leader in the industry with its seed separator equipment that includes gravity separators as well as optical separators. Oliver, who exports over 50 percent of their products overseas, is taking advantage of the benefits of doing business in a rural area by capitalizing on the low cost of real estate, affordable labor and a pro-business environment. This favorable environment has helped Oliver Manufacturing to grow its labor force by more than 30 percent in the last year. With the help of the City of La Junta, Oliver has completed an expansion of their manufacturing facility in the 1500 acre La Junta Industrial Park and continues to see growth in its future.

Food Processing: The agriculture industry in Southeastern Colorado continues to rebound and the work of local companies and local growers is a big part of the turnaround. One of the local growers associations has put in place its own strict standards when it comes to processing melons and has strategically limited its production and growth in order to build back the reputation of its produce.

Innovation has also sparked many creative ideas in the food processing arena. There are at least two food hub processing centers in consideration for the area. And while a food hub isn’t a new concept, the ideas around how to implement the food hub are drawing attention. Fort Lyon, 30 miles east of La Junta, is a building complex that was originally an army outpost in the late 1800s and then converted to a sanitarium. Over the years, Fort Lyon has had many uses from VA Hospital, corrections facility and now a second chance for Colorado’s homeless population and a possible food hub location to serve the local farmers and communities.

Hemp Processing: Colorado recently has been in the news for its laws regarding cannabis. And while the marijuana side of debate has seen most of the press, the industrial hemp side also is starting to gain traction. Ryan Loflin of Rocky Mountain Hemp was the first publicly acknowledged U.S. farmer of hemp in over 50 years. And as more farmers follow in his footsteps there will need to be hemp processing facilities to turn this lucrative crop into food items like hemp hearts, construction items such as hempcrete and insulation as well as any other number of uses like oils, cordage, paper, textiles, etc. Southeastern Colorado and La Junta in particular has the capacity and facilities available to be home to hemp processors.

La Junta (Spanish for “The Junction”) is a historic town in Colorado’s Southeastern plains. Established as a trading hub at the intersection of the Santa Fe Trail and the Arkansas River, La Junta still plays a key role as a retail and industrial hub for the region. La Junta is located in Otero County along Highway 50, one hour east of Pueblo and is home to nearby attractions such as the Koshare Indian Museum, Bent’s Old Fort, Otero Museum, Dinosaur Tracks and the Comanche Grasslands. La Junta also plays a key part in the cultural heritage of the area through its links to agriculture, local artisans, the Picketwire Theater and the Ed Stafford Theater. With events like the Kid’s Rodeo, Farm Days, the Chuck Wagon Cook Off and Early Settler’s Day, there is always an event tying the region back to its roots.

La Junta helps drive economic impact for the region and provides primary jobs to people in a five county region. La Junta’s manufacturers are honored to say that their products are Colorado Proud and Made in the U.S.A. Due to favorable lease agreements, affordable labor and a pro-business environment, these manufacturers have seen 16 percent job growth in the last 12 months. In the next five years, La Junta Economic Development has its sights set on four key industries: Advanced Manufacturing, Food Processing, Traditional Manufacturing and Contact Centers. For more information, visit www.LaJuntaEconomicDevelopment.com or contact Ryan Stevens at (719) 671-9499.

HARRISON COUNTY, IN: PROVEN FOOD PROCESSING SUCCESS

Before Interstate 64 connected Harrison County to the Midwest marketplace, the communities in this rural South Central Indiana County depended on agriculture to drive the economy. Since the mid 1970s, the population of the county has been among the fastest growing in Indiana and an industrial base has been developed as well as an emerging regional retail center. The work ethic from the earlier days of farming remains and this has brought success to many new business sectors. But the agricultural component continues here with a large concentration of food processing employment opportunities.

Tyson Foods operates a Poultry Processing facility in Corydon, the county seat of Harrison County. They employ nearly 600 people at the processing plant, a hatchery and Feed Production facility. In addition, the company contracts with dozens of local farmers that grow the chickens for Tyson. They also purchase grain from Harrison County farmers. This “value-added” scenario creates an economic boost to the entire region and especially in Harrison County.

The popcorn industry is significant in Indiana and Harrison County is no exception. Ramsey Popcorn, based in Ramsey, Indiana and Preferred Popcorn, located in Bradford both contract with local farmers to grow their popcorn. These companies then process and package it for sale to retail and wholesale markets. Ramsey produces the brand name “Cousin Willies” which has become a regional favorite in the microwave popcorn market. Additionally, the company sells to Boy Scout Troops using the brand name “CampMasters.” The company also exports to several foreign countries by bulk packaging, and then retailers overseas sell it under their own label.

Preferred Popcorn is based in Nebraska and purchased a local company in Bradford. They primarily sell bulk corn to overseas destinations. Preferred often brings popcorn to Bradford from Nebraska via the railroad. The locally owned, short line railroad company provides facilities for them to unload the corn. They take it by truck to their facility in Bradford for processing and packaging then ship it by railroad to Mexico. Preferred Popcorn does have a retail product under their name and their company sells a significant volume to the movie theatre industry.

Economic Development leaders love to see the “exporting” of local products; not only overseas exporting but also anywhere outside of the local community. Darrell Voelker, the Harrison County Economic Development Director said “the food processors in Harrison County make a huge impact on our local economy for much more than just the people they employ. They actually grow products here like popcorn, other grains and chickens then these foods go through additional processing and are sold outside of Harrison County. That is why food processing is one of those business sectors we support with our business retention efforts and we work with them to help them grow.”

AK-CHIN’S AGRI-BUSINESS GROWS IN NATIVE AMERICAN COMMUNITY

On the southern tip of the Greater Phoenix area in the heart of Arizona’s growth corridor, a small Native American tribe is offering a big opportunity to start-up operations or businesses looking to expand or relocate. Sprouting from Arizona’s agricultural core and the tribe’s own heritage with its Ak-Chin Farms enterprise, the Ak-Chin Indian Community has committed itself to economic diversification in the development of its industrial park, Santa Cruz Commerce Center.

Beyond Arizona’s own list of attractive qualities—low operating costs, high quality of life, educated workforce and minimal regulation, just to name a few—Santa Cruz Commerce Center offers advantages that are unique to Indian reservations and especially to Ak-Chin.

Hickman’s Family Farms is in the process of expanding its egg production facilities in the Santa Cruz Commerce Center. (Photo: Ak-Chin Indian Community.)

Hickman’s Family Farms is in the process of expanding its egg production facilities in the Santa Cruz Commerce Center. (Photo: Ak-Chin Indian Community.)

Among its advantages is its location. Santa Cruz Commerce Center sits in a gateway region, out of the fray of the metropolitan congestion of Phoenix, but central to major centers of commerce and ports in California, Texas and Mexico. It is close to major transportation arteries like Interstate 10 and the Canamex trade corridor, and Interstate 8. Moreover, it is less than five minutes from the Community’s own general aviation airport, Ak-Chin Regional Airport. The Commerce Center also is conveniently located between the state’s two largest universities—Arizona State University in Tempe and the University of Arizona in Tucson. Its proximity to several campuses in the Central Arizona College network and to the University of Arizona’s 2,100-acre research farm at the Maricopa Agricultural Center, makes it an ideal location for food processing, agri-business supply chain or plant science-related businesses.

The Ak-Chin Indian Community has a track record of building success in its own Community as well as the surrounding region. It has maintained a 20-year partnership with Caesar’s Entertainment and recently expanded Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort with the completion of a hotel tower. Other economic development projects have included the purchase and improvement of the Ak-Chin Southern Dunes Golf Club; the rebuilding of the Community’s grocery, Vekol Market; and the construction of the $50 million UltraStar Multi-tainment Center at Ak-Chin Circle, which was designed and built in just 14 months. In the last year, Ak-Chin also has given the adjacent City of Maricopa a $7.4 million gift for the Copper Sky Recreation Complex, a $20 million multi-generational facility and regional park which opened in March; and donated $2.6 million to the Maricopa Unified School District.

Ak-Chin’s low utility costs, unique tax savings and below market lease rates add to its attraction. Streamlined approval processes for zoning, permitting and design also aid speed to market. Just ask Hickman’s Family Farms.

Since opening its facility in Ak-Chin’s Santa Cruz Commerce Center in 2003, the Maricopa location of Hickman’s has been steadily growing its operations. Aided by the sales tax breaks on its buildings and equipment that are among the benefits of locating on the Ak-Chin Reservation, Hickman’s facilities have grown from a processing plant and four henhouses to adding a fifth poultry house in 2005. With its recent lease renewal, Hickman’s is now expanding again to add another 90,000 square feet for two more poultry houses on its 36+ acre site. The project broke ground in December 2013 and when complete, the total laying hen population will increase by 530,000 birds up to 1.7 million.

Hickman’s Family Farms has been family-owned and operated in Arizona since 1944. From its earliest days of using one small truck to provide fresh, locally produced eggs direct to consumers and small independent restaurants to its present day multi-facility operations in Maricopa, Buckeye and Arlington, Hickman’s has not wavered in its commitment to sustainability.

This sustainability vision made Hickman’s a perfect fit for Santa Cruz Commerce Center. Like Hickman’s, the Ak-Chin Indian Community has a deep respect for the environment and is dedicated to long-term sustainability. This created a unique opportunity for the two entities to forge a symbiotic relationship that benefits both entities. In this arrangement, Hickman’s procures feed for its flocks from Ak-Chin Farms from the crops grown at Ak-Chin while the Farms use the chicken waste from Hickman’s as fertilizer for growing its crops. Creative solutions like this are just one of the ways Ak-Chin’s Santa Cruz Commerce Center sets itself apart from the competition.

As Hickman’s Vice President, Billy G. Hickman said, “With a shared heritage in farming, Ak-Chin and Hickman’s have cultivated a strong partnership. In an environment committed to product excellence, environmental sustainability, and high standards for food safety, our business has been able to grow and expand.” Charles Carlyle, Ak-Chin Industrial Park Board Chairman concurs: “It’s a great place to grow your business.”

YOUNGSTOWN-WARREN: RAW MATERIALS ABOUND

The Youngstown-Warren, Ohio metro area provides a full range of services to companies in the food processing industry, from an abundance of raw materials—more than 150 grain and 130 dairy cattle and milk production farms—and award-winning container manufacturers, to innovative food production lines and a well-connected transportation network that quickly transfers products from warehouse to consumer.

Recent highlights and investments of food processors, supply manufacturers and distributors in the area include:

  • Exal Corporation, the world’s largest extruded aluminum can maker that produces more than 470 million containers annually for major companies like Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola and GlaxoSmithKline.
  • The 10-acre campus of Summer Garden Food Manufacturing, which produces Gia Russa products, as well as private-label sauces by renowned chefs Guy Fieri and Mario Batali, includes a research and development center, quality assurance laboratories, corporate offices and a culinary arts center.
  • In 2012, Anderson-DuBose (supplier to McDonald’s and Chipotle restaurants in four states), The Kellogg Co. and PurFoods, Inc. opened distribution centers in the region.
  • Valley Foods and AVI Foods provide pre-packaged foods to educational, military, government and commercial markets throughout the nation.

Youngstown-Warren, Ohio is a great location for your business because it’s strategically located within 500 miles of:

  • 60 percent of U.S. effective buying income
  • 50 percent of the U.S. population
  • 40 percent of the Canadian population
  • 55 percent of all U.S. manufacturing
  • 10 of the top 25 U.S. metro markets

It’s also within 75 miles of Cleveland, Akron, Canton, Erie and Pittsburgh and:

  • 6.8 million people
  • 10,650 manufacturing plants and 10,320 wholesale/distribution centers
  • 20 Fortune 500 company world headquarters
  • Cleveland-Youngstown-Pittsburgh TechBelt (of which it’s the center)

The economic engine of the Youngstown-Warren, OH and nearby Western Pennsylvania region has been revving in recent years. Since 2008, economic development project announcements have created nearly $9 billion in investment, 8,500 new jobs and 13,320 retained jobs. Contact Sarah Boyarko, vice president of Economic Development, North America at (330) 744-2131, ext. 17.

THE SACRAMENTO REGION: GROWING FOCUS ON FOOD

Recently, food and agriculture has been a growing industry for job creation and investment in the Sacramento Region as companies have found opportunity in response to growing world food and safety issues; industry changes including new agricultural technologies, increasing fuel costs and more efficient transportation strategies; market growth; and shifts in consumer behavior.

THE SACRAMENTO REGION’S FOOD AND AGRICULTURE ADVANTAGES

  • Location in the heart of the Central Valley of California, the largest agricultural region in the U.S.
  • Strong transportation system for goods and food logistics
  • Access to UC Davis—globally recognized leader in food and agriculture research
  • Private industry innovation
  • Growing international markets and gateway to the Pacific Rim
  • State capital location providing access and influence with policymakers
  • Nationally recognized Farm-to-Fork location

The Sacramento Region is a leader in the recent economic trend of connecting the network of local food providers to the local customer base. This effort, designated the Rural-Urban Connection Strategy (RUCS) by the Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), creates thriving agricultural and food scenes that work hand-in-hand and recently led to the Sacramento Region being named the Farm-to-Fork Capital of America. The region’s abundance of local farmland, vibrant culinary scene, food production, export practices, and renowned chefs and restaurants are unsurpassed. The result is higher quality and healthier foods, food innovation and start-up opportunities, and decreased transportation emissions.

The focus on food for health is supported by programs like Soil Born Farms Urban Agriculture & Education Project, which began as a for-profit farm in 2000 and has evolved into a nationally recognized center for the promotion of urban agriculture, sustainable food systems and healthy food education. In addition, the region was recently ranked nationally in the top five for farmers markets, which is further evidence of the region’s commitment to healthy, locally grown food products.

Located within the Sacramento Region, UC Davis is the leading university in the world in agriculture, food sciences and sustainability and currently has more than 30 centers or institutes on its campus engaged in research related to food, nutrition and health. The College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences has long been rated one of the world’s best and its faculty, staff and students have played an integral role in the development of California’s dynamic $43.5 billion-a-year farm economy and have helped revolutionize the food industry. The new UC Davis World Food Center will leverage the expertise and resources of the University system and bring world-renowned researchers together with industry leaders, policy makers, innovators and entrepreneurs to focus on the full range of food issues, from production, safety and transport to nutrition, health and the environment.

A regional food and agriculture task group worked throughout 2013 to develop an impressive array of projects spanning everything from research, innovation, advocacy, outreach and other activities to support the industry. Among them, the team released the 2013 Production Ag Policy Platform to enable the continued growth of production agriculture. The platform identifies basic policy areas and principles that meet the needs of large-scale production agriculture and food operations within the region and bolsters the export-driven agricultural economy.

A workforce gap analysis is underway to assess industry trends, anticipated workforce needs, as well as other activities that could stimulate encourage industry growth.

The Sacramento Region’s momentum in the food technology industries has been highlighted by recent announcements of the Bayer CropScience expansion, Nippon Shokken’s new headquarters and processing facility, Shinmei’s first gluten free rice bun U.S. production facility and the expansion of longtime headquarter company Blue Diamond Growers (the largest almond processing and marketing company in the world) with the world’s first Almond Innovation Center, as well as a growing list of company prospects in this industry.

The agriculture and food cluster comprises 21 economic activities in the Sacramento Region, supporting 37,000 jobs and producing $3.7 billion in output as the products grown, produced and packaged here are shipped all over the world. In Sacramento County alone, the gross value of agricultural production has grown to $460.6 million in 2012, a nearly 70 percent increase since 2002.

For more information about bringing your business to Sacramento, please contact Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization at (800) SACTO-12 or [email protected]; Sacramento County Office of Economic Development and Marketing  at (916) 874-5220 or [email protected]; or Sacramento Municipal Utility District Economic Development Services at (877) 768-3674 or [email protected].

NEW CASTLE-HENRY COUNTY, IN: COMPETES WITH THE BEST

New Castle-Henry County offers an abundance of accommodations useful to the food processing industry. Some of the reasons to look into locating or expanding your operations here include the location, workforce and utilities.

The New Castle Henry County Industrial park is located two miles off Interstate 70 and served by four-lane Indiana State Road 3.

The area (Henry and surrounding counties) boasts almost 10,000 people working in the Food Processing industry. Businesses will be able to find the future pipeline of talent at the New Castle Career Center. This award-winning program offers 17 programs for high school juniors and seniors. Relevant programs include Culinary Arts, Facility Maintenance, Marketing, Building Trades, Machine Trades and Welding. Henry County is also home to Ivy Tech Community College and the Danielson Center—Indiana University East.

The industrial park and 50,000-square-foot shell building is piped, powered and ready for your operation. Your site visit to the community will include a visit to the New Castle Water Pollution Control Center. Mayor Greg York, city of New Castle, is proud of the treatment plant and its effective and efficient operation is a top priority. The plant has a treatment capacity of 10 million gallons per day. Sufficient water supply is available through 13 wells with a pumping capacity of 8 million gallons per day.

Henry County looks forward to welcoming you. More information is available at www.readytogohenryco.org.

SYRACUSE REGION: READY AND WINNING

Centrally located in New York State, the Syracuse and Onondaga County area is located in the beautiful glacier carved Finger Lakes wine region, just south of Lake Ontario and two hours from the Canadian border. It sits at the crossroads of two major interstates, providing easy access to all East Coast markets, including New York City, Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto and Montreal.

Among the area’s most recent success stories is Agrana Fruits US, Inc., which located its newest facility in Radisson Business Park in the Town of Lysander. Agrana Fruits’ $38-million, 100,000-square-foot plant manufactures fruit preparations for the yogurt industry. The project is expected to create 66 direct jobs in the near-term and a total of 120 direct jobs within five years. It’s also anticipated to create an additional 250 indirect jobs in the community.

The yogurt industry is booming in New York State, thanks to skyrocketing sales in Greek yogurt. Chobani, FAGE, Alpina Foods and Pepsico-Theo Muller all have newer yogurt manufacturing plants within 125 miles of Syracuse. The plant owned by Chobani—the top Greek yogurt brand in the United States—is less than 65 miles away.

High demand for Greek yogurt has, in turn, driven high demand for milk, which also is increasing production in New York State. In early 2014, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed that New York had reclaimed the No. 3 dairy producer spot in the U.S., following California and Wisconsin.

While the yogurt industry is growing, other industries also are looking to expand in the Syracuse and Onondaga County area. The region continually promotes its pro-business strategy and markets its most significant asset, White Pine Commerce Park, which is nearing shovel-ready status and is actively seeking 100,000-square-foot to 1 million square-foot development projects.

White Pine is the largest publicly controlled business park in the Syracuse region. The 339-acre site is easily accessible by rail and is two miles from a major interstate. The site boasts ample fresh water resources and is less than 35 miles from a deep-water port that serves as a gateway to the St. Lawrence Seaway and Port of Montreal.

Connectivity is not an issue at White Pine—a National Grid-owned substation adjacent to the site can support multiple 115kV circuits, and telecom offerings include OC3 fiber and broadband service.

Up to 8 MGD is available on-site at White Pine for data center cooling and precision manufacturing. It’s a stable, low-risk environment with a traditional four-season climate, reducing the chance of a natural disaster disrupting business.

The region boasts a well-educated, skilled workforce. More than 77,000 high school graduates over the age of 25 live within 10 miles of White Pine, and one-third of the available workforce holds a bachelor’s degree or higher. Six nationally ranked colleges and universities offer local worker training and certification programs, as well as proven research and development, and product commercialization assistance.

Partnerships among colleges, universities and industries are gaining momentum in New York State. Using the State University of New York’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering’s partnerships with top semiconductor companies as a model, the state recently announced its aggressive Startup-NY initiative.

Startup-NY seeks to provide major incentives for businesses to relocate, start up or significantly expand in New York State through affiliations with public and private universities, colleges and community colleges. Through the program, companies have the opportunity to operate state and local tax-free for 10 years, and their employees pay no state or local personal income taxes.

White Pine is expected to achieve shovel-ready status in late 2014.

For more information, contact Linda McShane, Project Development Specialist, at (315) 435-3770.

THE JOPLIN, MO REGION IS CENTRAL, CONNECTED, CAPABLE

The seven-county Joplin region is located near the geographic and population centers of the United States. The City of Joplin is the hub of the Joplin-Miami, OK Combined Metropolitan Statistical Area—a market of more than 200,000 people. Along with the CMSA, the region also is anchored by the Pittsburg and Parsons, KS micropolitan areas. More than 300,000 live in the region, but the immediate market reach is more than 500,000. The region has a central location to many raw materials sources as well as an outbound market reach. A productive workforce, quality business climate and high quality of living make the Joplin region an ideal location for companies planning a new operation in the central U.S.

Interstate 44 (east-west) and I-49 (north-south), along with US Hwy 69 (north-south), create connections to every region in the country and to Mexico and Canada as well. These major highway connections are enhanced with numerous state highways that provide efficient market access throughout the Joplin region and greater Midwest area.

Three Class 1 railroads and two regional short-line railroads are important parts of the transportation system. These rail lines provide direct access to major ports on the Gulf of Mexico and Pacific Ocean. The Joplin Regional Airport and three other airports within 60 to 90 minutes drive time serve the region, providing commercial and cargo air service to markets throughout the world. In addition, the Port of Catoosa, 90 miles from the center of the Joplin region, provides barge service to major ports in New Orleans and Houston.

The Joplin region is an excellent location for food product manufacturing and distribution based on the population within 150 and 300 miles. Among its regional competitors, Joplin has the largest population within a 150-mile radius. In a 300 miles radius, Joplin’s population reach is greater than Kansas City and similar to Tulsa. In a 500-mile radius, a Joplin region location reaches a greater population base than three of the other metros and is nearly as advantageous as Kansas City. Only Springfield reaches a greater population in a 500-mile radius because of a closer proximity to the Chicago market.

The Joplin region already is strong in the food processing sector. In the seven-county region, there are nearly 50 food processing firms employing more than 4,700 people. The regional workforce understands the specialized needs of food processing and delivers a diversified array of quality products from bakery meat and poultry products to fruit juices and soy milk drinks.

Wages in the Joplin region are very competitive. Wages are approximately 80 percent to 85 percent of U.S. averages, depending on employment sector. Area employers give high ratings to the productivity and loyalty of their workforce. While it is not unusual for companies to draw employees from as far as 60 minutes away, the average commute time is only 17 minutes, reflecting the efficient highway system and overall lack of traffic congestion in the Joplin region.

A number of colleges and state universities provide educational and training opportunities. Crowder College, Labette College and Northeast Oklahoma A&M offer standard, two-year liberal and vocational options as well as customized training for area companies. Missouri Southern State University and Pittsburg State University offer four-year and post-graduate degrees, as well as standard and customized training for area firms.

A central North American location, global transportation and communication connections, capable and productive workforce, cost-effective business climate and a high quality of life make the Joplin region a great place for business. For more information contact Kevin Welch, director of the Joplin Regional Partnership at (417) 439-0139, (417) 624-4150.

LEBANON/MARION COUNTY, KY: FORWARD AT FULL FORCE

The Lebanon/Marion County, Kentucky Industrial Foundation has ventured into food processing in a very aggressive way. The foundation has developed the first Certified Food Processing industrial park in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The food processing park received the certification in 2011 when the Ady/Austin Company completed an extensive review of the 150 acre site and declared it ready for food processors that need long-term availability of water, sewage disposal and utility services.

According to Tom Lund, Executive Director of the Marion County Industrial Foundation, “We developed the site for a food processing venture that never materialized. After we extended 20 inch water lines to the site, 12 inch sewer lines, access roads, gas lines and telecommunications it only made sense to utilize the infrastructure that is in place.”

In addition to its existing infrastructure, Lebanon is in the process of connecting its present water system to the Green River water system in Central Kentucky assuring water availability even in the unlikely circumstance of extreme drought.

In addition to developing the Food Processing Park the Marion County Industrial Foundation has built a 100,000-square-foot speculative building capable of being cooled to 40°F. The building has been constructed with extra mechanical load to allow air handling and other equipment on the roof.

Because of its central location for distribution purposes, the R.L. Schreiber Company has moved its spice blending and soup base production from Florida to Lebanon, Kentucky. According to Greg Ransdell, former CEO of R.L. Schreiber Company, the move was made for distribution purposes. “I have moved several companies but the move to Lebanon made the most sense. The city, county and industrial development staff made it happen with a lot of cooperation, no ‘red-tape’ and no wasted time.”

MI GREEN THUMB, I-69 CORRIDOR DRIVE FOOD PROCESSING GROWTH

Two economic development regions in Michigan are now working together to leverage their key assets to support the growth of food processing in their area of the state.

MI Green Thumb (Huron, Sanilac and Tuscola Counties) and the I-69 International Trade Corridor (Genesee, Lapeer, Shiawassee & St. Clair Counties) provide a multitude of resources, which make this location an ideal destination for this type of agribusiness.

The State of Michigan’s food and agriculture industry is thriving, generating $96 billion of economic activity each year, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, which includes producing over 300 commercial commodities—second to only California.

The seven-county I-69/Thumb Region is a major driver of this success, with individual counties ranked in the top 10 statewide in production of a number of different commodities, including soybeans, wheat, dry edible beans, sugar beets, poultry, sheep and goats, dairy and aquaculture.

The region also has top 10 rankings in a number of support services, including food warehouses, livestock markets, fertilizer manufacturers, distributors and storage facilities and pesticide storage facilities. A unique benefit that will be available soon is the Karegnondi Water Pipeline, a line currently being constructed that will run from Lake Huron west across the region from Sanilac County to Genesee County that can allow processors to access raw water for production needs.

There also is close proximity to distribute to U.S. and Canadian markets, with more than 70 million people living within 500 miles. All modes of transportation are available in the region as well, including freeways (I-69, I-75, US-23, I-94), railroads (main lines Canadian National and CSX), Bishop International Airport in Flint and water ports in St. Clair County. In addition, the region is home to the Blue Water Bridge and a double-stack rail tunnel (between Port Huron and Sarnia, Ontario), which has the highest freight value of any U.S. border crossing.

Food processing companies also have a large labor pool to draw talent from, with nearly 880,000 people residing in the Thumb and Corridor, and over 410,000 people in the labor force. In addition, there are a number of different educational and training programs available to support the industry.

Another unique asset is the I-69 International Trade Corridor Next Michigan Development Corporation, an unprecedented collaboration of 36 units of government that work to support business growth, including having the ability to offer incentives to support businesses that use at least two modes of transportation. These incentives include real property tax abatements, personal property tax abatements and tax-free renaissance zones.

The availability of these resources is driving business investment. Pinnacle Foods, the maker of Vlasic pickles, chose to expand their existing operations in Imlay City (Lapeer County) over a competing site in Delaware, which will bring approximately 30 new full-time jobs and hundreds of seasonal jobs to the area. Other well-known food processing firms in the region include Koegel Meats and The Coffee Beanery. For more information on MI Green Thumb and the I-69 International Trade Corridor, visit http://www.i-69internationaltradecorridor.com/region6/.

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