By Kristin Rodine.French accents, Italian cheese and Idaho jobs dominated the conversation Monday as Lactalis announced plans that will make the Canyon County plant the largest of its nearly 200 sites worldwide.
The 61,300-square-foot plant will produce fresh mozzarella. Lactalis will build it this year behind the existing plant on its property at Franklin and Star roads just east of the Nampa city limits. It will be operating by spring 2013.
â€œThis is a great day for Lactalis, particularly for the Nampa team,â€ said Jean Paul Quiblier, vice president of manufacturing and purchasing for Lactalis American Group, a division of the French conglomerate Groupe Lactalis.
Fresh mozzarella is a relatively small sideline of the existing Nampa plant, with 40 workers producing around 7 million pounds of the cheese per year, officials said.
That output will increase to 40 million pounds per year of Galbani brand cheese when the new plant opens, taking on the existing 40 workers and hiring about 70 more, said Lenny Bass, who will manage the fresh mozzarella operation.
The existing plant will continue its focus on producing string cheese, plus bulk and shredded mozzarella, he said.
A $50 million whey-drying tower, completed in 2010, turns the liquid left over from cheese-making into a protein powder used in animal feed and protein drinks. The sounds emitted from that tower riled residents of nearby subdivisions, and the company quieted most complaints with an estimated $250,000 in noise-abatement efforts.
Lactalis officials said they donâ€™t expect the fresh mozzarella plant, which will operate 18 to 20 hours per day, to spur new noise problems.
Gov. Butch Otter, Nampa Mayor Tom Dale and quorums of the Nampa City Council and Canyon County Board of Commissioners were on hand Monday to applaud the announcement. Construction should begin in March.
â€œItâ€™s great to have this in Canyon County,â€ Commissioner David Ferdinand said.
The expansion bolsters the countyâ€™s agricultural tradition and industrial job base, he said, plus it will benefit dairy farmers throughout the Treasure Valley and beyond.
The existing plant goes through about 4.2 million pounds of milk a day, and about 80 percent comes from Treasure Valley dairies, Quiblier said. Other milk comes from the Magic Valley, he said.
Otter, a former J.R. Simplot Co. executive, said heâ€™s watched the cheese operation grow from its Simplot-owned days as Swiss Village and is excited to welcome this latest expansion.
â€œYou folks have 200 places around the world you could put $40 million bucks and you chose Nampa, Idaho,â€ Otter said with a grin. â€œWe hope that youâ€™ll be encouraged to grow even more.â€
Source: The Idaho Statesman (ID)
Posted on Thursday, February 09, 2012 (Archive on Thursday, February 16, 2012)
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