KENTLAND - The Newton County Commissioners and County Council have approved a major infrastructure project to support a proposed $230 million cheese manufacturing facility. The investment from Select Milk Producers, and its well-known flagship Fair Oaks Farms, would include a hotel and a dairy-focused learning component. County Attorney Patrick Ryan tells Inside INdiana Business at least 130 jobs "and probably significantly more" would come with the project.

Ryan says the project has cleared the early stages in the process through "a perfect environment and timing."

Private discussions have been taking place among county and economic development officials and Mike McCloskey since November. McCloskey is co-founder and chief executive officer of Select Milk Producers, as well as chairman of the Fair Oaks Farms board. Select Milk Producers is one of the largest milk industry cooperatives in the U.S. and has partnered with heavyweight Coca-Cola to distribute and market products such as Fair Life ultra-filtered milk.

Ryan says county leaders have approved a $15 million bond initiative to help with financing a sewer and water plant near the property. He says with fewer than 15,000 people in the county, a project of this magnitude would provide a much needed source of good jobs and tax revenue.

Ryan says the process has involved agencies of all sizes from the local to the state level. He says work could begin in 2018 or 2019. Ryan says the next step should involve crafting an economic development agreement to further line-up terms and accountability of the plans. "This is really the first stage of many. We've gone slow and we've been very deliberative in what takes place," he says. "There's a lot of moving pieces on the private side when it comes to doing a project of this size and magnitude. This is a long partnership and I think it's going to have some really amazing results."