Illinois-based Prairie Farms Dairy is expanding its Fort Wayne operations. The company is investing nearly $9 million to build and equip an addition to its facility in a move that will add a small number of jobs by 2020.
Prairie Farms says the expansion is part of an effort to add specialty products to its portfolio. Construction on the 22,500 square-foot addition is expected to begin in April and be complete within 18 months.
The company currently produces a variety of dairy products at its Lima Road facility in Fort Wayne. The expansion will include new processing tanks and systems, production equipment, packaging lines, and a cooler and dry storage warehouse.
"Prairie Farms has been a part of the Fort Wayne community for 23 years, and we are looking forward to many more," said Chuck McQuaig, Fort Wayne general manager for Prairie Farms. "We currently employ 117 people, and through this expansion, we are pleased to offer more local jobs. Along with the expansion comes a bigger distribution footprint for us. Once complete, we will ship more Prairie Farms products from coast to coast, and to Central America."
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Prairie Farms up to $50,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $15,500 in training grants. The city of Fort Wayne will consider additional incentives.
The announcement is just the latest in Indiana’s growing dairy industry. The state ranks 14th in the nation in milk production and 2nd in ice cream production.
"One of our top goals when we launched the dairy strategy was to add value to Indiana’s dairy products by increasing our state’s processing capacity," said Ted McKinney, director of the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. "By expanding their operation, Prairie Farms’ announcement confirms our strategy is working and continues to pay off in Indiana. I applaud their decision and look forward to the growth opportunities this will create for Indiana’s dairy farmers."
Last year, Walmart (NYSE: WMT) announced plans to build a milk processing plant in Fort Wayne, creating more than 200 jobs by the end of this year. Officials in Newton County announced plans for a $230 cheese manufacturing facility at Fair Oaks Farms. In September, Homestead Diary LLC said it would invest $14 million to build an automated dairy facility in Plymouth.
General Manager Chuck McQuaig says the growth is the “tip of the iceberg” of what the company can do in Fort Wayne.