A $9 million expansion at Dole Fresh Vegetables Inc. will lead to 138 new jobs at its Springfield plant over the next three years.
The deal will generate an additional $3.2 million in annual payroll and retain about 600 jobs. The Springfield plant beat out a Dole site in North Carolina for the project.
The Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a 50 percent, nine-year Job Creation Tax Credit for Dole’s expansion on Monday, which requires the company to maintain operations in Springfield for at least 12 years. The city of Springfield is also expected to provide incentives.
The deal, which also includes First Diversity Management Group, a Springfield-based hiring firm, will retain about $17.4 million in annual payroll.
The company will add three new packaging lines and one processing line to its facility at 600 Benjamin Drive to produce Dole’s tender-leaf packaged vegetable products, which include spinach, spring mix and baby lettuce, according to the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce.
The lines are new products for Springfield and will increase the capacity of the facility, said Dole Plant Manager John Lochra in a news release. The expansion includes renovating an existing building, and new machinery and equipment.
Representatives from Dole’s California headquarters didn’t return calls seeking comment on Monday and Lochra declined an interview request.
“Our Springfield location was the best location for us to expand and add this new capacity,” Lochra said in a statement. “This investment will add new capabilities to our Springfield operations, allowing us to supply the northeastern portion of the United States more efficiently.”
The company is expected to begin the hiring process immediately, according to Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce President Mike McDorman.
Springfield was in competition with a plant in North Carolina for the project, according to scope of work documents from the Ohio Development Services Agency. Dole has an existing facility in Bessemer City, N.C.
“State support is necessary to offset a higher project cost in Ohio, which will bring large job growth in a targeted industry to the state,” according to the documents obtained by the Springfield News-Sun.
Dole is a top 25 employer in Clark County and has had a presence in Springfield since 1997, McDorman said. The chamber, Community Improvement Corp., city of Springfield, Dayton Development Coalition and JobsOhio all worked with Dole on the expansion, McDorman said.
“This new spinach product line helps diversify the Springfield Dole facility and better positions our community for future opportunities with the company,” he said.
If all job creation and new payroll tax numbers are met, the estimated value of the state incentives is nearly $284,000, according to the Ohio Development Services Agency. Dole expects to add the 138 jobs by the end of 2017.
The city of Springfield will also provide up to $54,500 over the next three years if job creation numbers are met, according to Josh Rauch, the deputy administrator for the city’s economic development administrator. The Employee Incentive Agreement is expected to be approved by the city commission at its Sept. 2 meeting.
Once approved, Dole will have the green light to move forward with the project, Rauch said.
“We’re happy to assist another local company to grow and increase their presence in the community,” he said.
First Diversity, located at 560 E. High St., declined to comment on its role in the the expansion, referring all questions to Dole.
Jobs at Dole include lettuce trimming, cutting, washing, drying, packaging and shipping. A separate quality assurance team performs maintenance and sanitation.
The Springfield plant is about 175,000 square feet and valued at $9.1 million, according to the Clark County Auditor’s Office. The company purchased the site in 1997.
Dole is one of the world’s largest producers of fresh fruit and vegetables, ranked 96th on Forbes Magazine’s list of America’s Largest Private Companies after generating about $4.25 billion in revenue in 2013.
The company does business in more than 90 countries and employs about 36,000 full-time, regular employees and 23,000 full-time seasonal or temporary employees worldwide, according to its website.
The announcement comes one month after Speedway, also a top 25 employer in Clark County, announced it will create up to 350 jobs with a $9.1 million expansion at the NextEdge Applied Research and Technology Park on East National Road.
The area is also becoming a hub of regional food distribution and production with companies such as Dole, Gordon Food Service, Bob Evans, Reiter Dairy, Woeber Mustard and Robert Rothschilds Farm.
“Globally recognized brands continue to find the Dayton region an attractive place to do business,” said state Sen. Chris Widener in a statement.
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