McKee Foods Investing $500M To Expand Tennessee Operation

The snack food and granola maker employs more than 3,000 people in Tennessee, and anticipates creating 480 new jobs in Collegedale over the next 15 years.

McKee Foods Corporation, the maker of Little Debbie Snacks, Drake’s Cakes and other snack foods, will undergo a major expansion in Collegedale, TN. Over a 15-year period, McKee Foods plans to invest more than $500 million in its Hamilton County production operations and create approximately 480 jobs. The expansion will accommodate new production lines.

Collegedale, TN
(Photo: McKee Foods)

“McKee Foods is very pleased that we are able to bring more jobs and more bakery capacity to our Hamilton County operations,” said Mike McKee, McKee Foods Corporation President & CEO. “Our family business is blessed to have such deep roots in Southeast Tennessee — a region where thoughtful infrastructure investment is being made while maintaining a keen eye on livability and workability for our employees and surrounding communities.”

As part of the first phase of the expansion, McKee Foods will invest $225 million over the next seven years and initially create 125 jobs. Following this first phase, McKee Foods anticipates further hiring and investment to meet its 15-year targets.

Headquartered in Collegedale for more than 70 years, McKee Foods employs more than 3,000 people at its Tennessee production facilities and corporate offices. The privately-held, family-owned company is the maker of Little Debbie Snacks, Sunbelt Bakery granola and cereal, Heartland Brands and Drake’s Cakes.

“I’m grateful for McKee Foods’ ongoing commitment to Tennessee as it continues to create high-quality jobs and drive economic activity,” said Governor Bill Lee. “Thousands of Tennesseans have contributed to the success of McKee Foods and its world-renowned products. I’m pleased to see such a storied Tennessee brand move forward with this considerable expansion in Collegedale.”

“Tennessee is home to some of the world’s most respected food brands, none greater than Little Debbie Snacks and McKee Foods,” said Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) Commissioner Bob Rolfe. “We’ve sought to create a business-friendly environment that ensures our existing Tennessee companies can prosper and thrive. McKee Foods has called Collegedale and Hamilton County home for generations, and this considerable investment promises to ensure its prominent role in Southeast Tennessee continues for generations to come.”

Since 2015, TNECD has supported 45 economic development projects in Hamilton County, totaling more than 6,500 job commitments and $1.8 billion in private capital investment.

“I am extremely excited to learn about the initial announcement of 125 new jobs at McKee Foods, a number that will grow to 480 over the next 15 years,” commented Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. “McKee is one of the great Hamilton County legacy companies, and we could not be happier that McKee chose its hometown to make this significant expansion and investment that will help grow Hamilton County.”

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