Wal-Mart milk plant to cost $165 million

May 23rd, 2016

News Coverage:

May 21, 2016

Wal-Mart milk plant to cost $165 million

Rosa Salter Rodriguez | The Journal Gazette

The extent of Wal-Mart’s investment in a new milk-processing facility in southern Allen County is now known – $165 million.

The amount was revealed in an application for more than $10 million in local tax breaks over 10 years approved Thursday by the Allen County Council.

Announced in March, the plant at the northeast corner of Bluffton and West Pleasant Center roads will be on property formerly known as the Brandenberger Farm. The land was previously an Allen County Redevelopment Commission property.

The tax-abatement application from Blue Kingfisher LLC of Bentonville, Arkansas, says the company plans to spend $83 million on real-estate improvements, including an approximately 255,000-square-foot building, and $82 million on equipment.

Bentonville is the home base of Wal-Mart, which is mentioned nowhere in the application. The document provides only sketchy information, leaving some questions blank and answering others with TBD. 

The application says the plant will create 251 new full-time jobs. That’s more than the 200 jobs mentioned when the plant was announced in March, but 100 of those jobs will be truck drivers employed by another company, the application says.

The plant’s jobs include 90 “production associates” at an average base salary $40,000, 40 maintenance technicians at an average base salary of $55,000 and 21 management and supervisory positions at an average base salary of $91,000. Truck drivers would make about $75,000.

The application does not specify whether the management jobs would be locally based, although it hints bonuses may be available for some workers.

Health, dental and vision insurance will be offered, as well as paid vacation and holidays and sick leave.    

The abatements will save the business $7.6 million in real estate taxes and $3.1 million in personal property taxes on equipment. The equipment investments would include $60 million in manufacturing equipment, $12 million in logistical/distribution equipment and $10 million in information technology equipment.

The company would pay about $7.6 million in real estate taxes and $3.1 million in personal property taxes during the 10-year abatement period, beginning with a 100 percent reduction.

When the plant was announced, officials said it would produce Great Value and Member’s Mark plain and chocolate milk for sale in 600 Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and northern Kentucky.

Construction of the building is expected to begin in July with equipment installed beginning in the first quarter of 2017, the application says.