GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Gerber plans to spend up to $36 million to expand production of freeze-dried snacks at its Fremont plant, a move that’s expected to create 50 jobs over two years.
The baby food manufacturer says it will add freeze dryers and other machinery used to make the freeze-dried snacks, known as melts, which Gerber says is its fastest growing product.
“We are thrilled to see the number of Gerber Fremont employees grow with the advancement of our Snack portfolio with melts,” Andrew Willis, Factory Manager at Gerber, said in a statement. “We take great pride being the home of Gerber, and we are looking forward to many more years of growth and commitment within the Fremont community.”
As part of its expansion, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation board on Tuesday approved Gerber’s request for a 10-year Renaissance Zone designation. The designation means Gerber would not have to pay taxes on its equipment or property. The MEDC estimates the designation will cut Gerber’s tax bill by $6.5 million over a decade.
Gerber must create 50 jobs over the 10-year span as part of the renaissance zone agreement. The company told the MEDC the new jobs will be for full-time line workers with an estimated salary of $21 per hour.
A representative of Gerber could not immediately be reached to say when the expansion will begin.
Fremont is located about 45 northwest of Grand Rapids.
Andria Romkema, a spokesperson for The Right Place, a Grand Rapids-based economic development group that helped facilitate the expansion, said the project will begin “immediately.”
Gerber’s parent company, Nestle, was considering making the expansion at either Gerber’s Fremont facility or a Gerber location in Fort Smith, Arkansas, according to an MEDC memo. The Renaissance Zone incentive was needed to compete with “Arkansas’s retention tools” and to secure “any future investment and job creation in Michigan.”
If Nestle had decided to expand the freeze dry line in Arkansas, the company would have cut 100 jobs at its Fremont plant and phase-out, over time, the plant’s aseptic line. Phasing out the aseptic line would have resulted in the loss of about 300 jobs and ensure that “consideration for future investment and job creation would go to Fort Smith.”
“We are pleased Gerber has chosen to continue investing in Newaygo County,” Newaygo County Administrator Christopher Wren said in a statement. “They provide quality jobs for local residents and we look forward to seeing their continued growth in our community.”
Gerber was founded in Fremont in 1928 by Dan Gerber. The company was sold Nestle in 2007.
Grand Rapids getting just half of $11.1M in requested coronavirus relief funding
Michigan Department of Corrections to close Detroit facility with 220 employees
Murder suspect targeted elderly man at Meijer, court records show
©2020 MLive.com, Walker, Mich.
Visit MLive.com, Walker, Mich. at www.mlive.com.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.