ST. ELMO — A food manufacturing facility in St. Elmo is expected to double its work force in the first half of 2015 as it adds a product line.
New Jersey-based Pinnacle Foods Inc. announced plans this week to spend between $40 million and $50 million to buy equipment, expand the plant footprint and improve existing infrastructure to bring the production of its salad dressings in-house. It will receive an incentive package from the state of Illinois worth approximately $2.7 million.
The expansion will bring the recently acquired Wish-Bone and Western salad dressing products to be manufactured at the facility. Pinnacle acquired the labels from Unilever in October in a deal worth about $580 million.
“The efficiencies we expect to generate at this new facility will enable us to invest and to reinvigorate the iconic Wish-Bone brand,” said Tony Fernandez, executive vice president and chief supply chain officer at Pinnacle Foods.
The salad dressings were previously produced at Unilever’s facility in Independence, Mo.
The St. Elmo plant, where 85 people are currently employed, manufactures Pinnacle’s Mrs. Butterworth’s and Log Cabin syrup brands and Open Pit barbecue sauces. The company plans to add about 90 more jobs in 2015 to support the additional products.
Following the acquisition of the salad dressing labels, the company chose St. Elmo as the place to consolidate its production given its geographic location and proven expertise in liquid filling and processing.
“This decision by Pinnacle is a tremendous show of support for Fayette County and Illinois,” Gov. Pat Quinn said. “Pinnacle can tap into our state’s qualified labor force, unparalleled expertise in manufacturing and location at the center of North American commerce.”
The company qualified for grants and tax incentives from the state and assistance from the city of St. Elmo and Fayette County.
“Pinnacle Foods has a very strong manufacturing base and a strong work force in St. Elmo,” the city’s Mayor Ernie Myers said. “We are pleased that this expansion will mean more good jobs for St. Elmo and the surrounding area.”
The incentive package includes tax credits from the Economic Development for a Growing Economy, or EDGE, program in addition to credits for expanding in an enterprise zone and a grant to the city for related infrastructure improvements.
The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity administers the incentives package.