Archive for Thursday, September 23, 2004

Huhtamaki expanding in De Soto

Company to add 13 to 15 jobs

September 23, 2004

Huhtamaki Americas announced Wednesday the expansion of a new service line that will bring 13 to 15 new jobs to its De Soto plant.

Arron Smith, Huhtamaki's De Soto plant manager, said the new product would serve a "major quick service restaurant" customer. It will join the other ice cream packaging items produced in De Soto.

At an announcement at the quarterly meeting of the De Soto Economic Development Council, Smith said the new product line will require a capital investment of $1.4 to $2 million. Once operating, it will expand the company's annual payroll in De Soto by $262,000. The De Soto facility currently has about 350 employees working in various production and corporate capacities.

The added product line would not require additions to the existing plant, Smith said. Rather, space within the 400,000-square-foot facility in De Soto KTen Commerce Park would be reconfigured to accommodate the new product line.

Components of the new product line were already installed and in partial production, Smith said. The new equipment should be fully operational by the end of October.

The Huhtamaki announcement was welcomed by De Soto civic and business leaders.

"Huhtamaki's announcement is confirmation that De Soto is a great place for business expansion projects," Mayor Dave Anderson said. "We appreciate the impact that new employment and capital investment from this project has on our local economy."

De Soto Chamber of Commerce and Economic Development Council Director Sara Ritter said the expansion would add to what was already an important part of the community.

"We're extremely excited Huhtamaki chose to make their investment in De Soto," she said. "They're an important part of our community as well as of huge economic importance."

An important factor in the decision to add the new product line in De Soto instead of one of Huhtamaki's 15 other American plants was the quality of the local workforce, Kansas Lt. Gov. John Moore said in a press release.

"With other locations around the country competing for this project, we are pleased that Huhtamaki Americas recognizes the advantages we have in Kansas and has decided to grow its business here," he said. "The new jobs and investment are important to De Soto and to Kansas, and we are pleased that, together with our local partners, we were able to help encourage this company's expansion here."

Until a recent re-assignment, Moore served as head of the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing in Sebelius' administration.

Smith said the Commerce Department played a key role in the expansion by providing a grant that will be used for the new equipment.

Huhtamaki acquired the De Soto plant with its purchase of Sealright in 1998.

The purchase brought stability to the De Soto operation, which under the previous management had failed to meet the terms of its tax abatement agreement with the city.

Production resumed in De Soto in 1999.

In February 2000, the Finnish-based corporation announced that De Soto would serve as its North American headquarters.

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