Most of Kansas’ food processing operations are clustered in the Kansas City metro, thanks to its logistics parks and workforce supply. It’s home to more than 650 food production companies that employ more than 25,000 people. But food and beverage producers can be found in virtually every part of the state, which is centrally located and home to vibrant beef and grain sectors, ingredient making and cold storage. Garden City, the Finney County seat, is closer to Denver than to Kansas City. That’s where empirical Foods is investing $250 million in a new ground beef facility that will create 250 jobs. The new facility will more than double the company’s ground beef production.
“After a long evaluation period to identify the perfect location for our new facility, we were pleased to settle on Garden City and could not have identified a better, more welcoming community,” said Nick Roth, president of empirical Technology, Inc., at the October 2020 groundbreaking. “The State of Kansas, Garden City and the Finney County Economic Development Corporation have been excellent partners to the beef industry and companies like ours.” Construction on the plant is expected to be finished between 2022 and 2023.
Pass the Pretzels, Please
VenturePark, in Lawrence, is the location of a new, 150,000-sqare-foot pretzel production facility for India-based Pretzels, Inc., the company announced in December. Home to the University of Kansas, Lawrence is just 45 minutes to the West of Kansas City. The new facility will facilitate serving markets to the West and South
“The decision for Pretzels, Inc. to locate its production facility in Lawrence reinforces our region’s position as a top location for food and beverage manufacturing,” said Tim Cowden, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council. “More than 600 food and beverage companies call the region home, and our KC SmartPort team will continue to elevate Kansas City’s proximity to agriculture markets, advanced logistics infrastructure and industry-specific talent as strategic advantages.”
Frito Lay, Pepsico, Smithfield, and Russell Stover are among the food production companies in the region. A newcomer to the area also happens to make pretzels. Dot’s Pretzels, LLC selected Logistics Park Kansas City (LPKC) in Edgerton for its new manufacturing facility. The new facility will be the largest manufacturing plant for Dot’s Pretzels. The company is investing $15 million and creating 22 new jobs.
“We are making significant investments in our technology at the new facility to keep the company on an aggressive growth trajectory,” said Randy Johnson, CEO of Dot’s Pretzels. “Not only will we be able to produce more pretzels but do so with greater consistency and ability to expand our product lines.”
LPKS, located 25 miles south of Kansas City, is a master planned distribution and warehouse development with more than 3,000 acres of developable space and 30 million square feet of building capacity. Home to a foreign trade zone, it’s anchored by the 433-acre BNSF Intermodal complex and its state-of-the-art transportation and freight rail services. The park is home to a facility for DeLong Company, a leading Midwest supplier of corn and soybeans, and Hostess Brands.
In Salina, Schwan’s, a leading food producer in the United States, will build a new 400,000-square-foot expansion at its pizza-manufacturing facility that’s been operating for 50 years. The new facility will result in up to 225 new full-time jobs by 2023. The company already employs 1,125 people at its current 500,000-square-foot production facility and distribution center in Salina.
Schwan’s also signaled its dedication to sustainability in the move. The company has committed to purchasing renewable energy from a Kansas wind farm through Evergy. Additional projects are planned for the Salina site over the next several years as Schwan’s pursues continued growth in the company’s pizza business, representing an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in total.
Mark Arend has been editor in chief of Site Selection magazine since 2001. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.