SHELBYVILLE - The president of Greenleaf Foods SPC says a planned $310 million facility in Shelbyville fills a major need. Governor Eric Holcomb joined officials from the company Monday to break ground on the 230,000-square-foot plant-based protein manufacturing facility, which is expected to create up to 460 jobs. At a news conference, Dan Curtin said Greenleaf was formed about nine months ago as a subsidiary of Toronto-based based Maple Leaf Foods Inc. and was looking for a location to complement its facilities on the east and west coasts.

Curtin said Shelbyville was an easy choice after months of discussions.

"We were impressed from the very first meeting, from the on-site visits that we had, from follow-up meetings, from correspondence, communication -- absolutely everybody was on their A game every single day and that's honestly what attracted us, so it started with the people," said Curtin. "But what's important to us, it's not about today, it's not when the shovels go in the ground, it's not when the building goes up, it's what this legacy is going to be for all of us going forward. I want all of us to be proud."

Curtin said the initial construction of the facility will not be a "one-and-done" project. The plant will sit on 57 acres of land in the Shelby County city, which Curtin says gives the company room for future growth.

Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun said sustainable industries like Greenleaf and the planned $160 million ethanol plant from South Dakota-based POET LLC are putting the city on the map as a model of responsible and sustainable communities. He says sustainability and advanced manufacturing are becoming commonplace in Shelby County.

DeBaun says the city acquired the property, which almost instantly led to Greenleaf's commitment.

"We had this property under city ownership within seven days and on that seventh day, Greenleaf announced their commitment to Shelbyville," said DeBaun. "It was perceived by some that this was a risk and a monumental gamble on our part to assemble such a parcel of land, however with the team that we have, as talented as they are, the risk was mitigated and we knew, weighted against the risk, the potential benefits were far greater."

Construction on the project will begin later this spring and the facility is expected to be complete by the end of 2020.