The mood at Tulare City Hall is one of cautious optimism because a group of food industry veterans is proposing to build a cheese processing plant that would employ 220 people at good wages.
“Anytime you get 220 jobs in Tulare, and these aren’t minimum wage jobs, I can support that,” said Mayor David Macedo.
The average wage would be about $46,000 per year plus benefits, Calicheese Company LLC told the city.
City officials are being careful not to get too excited because high-profile projects sometimes fail.
But last week, Calicheese .signed an agreement promising to buy 59 acres of city property for about $2 million, or $35,000 an acre. The company has six months to get its financing together.
The proposed 300,000 square foot plant would open in 2015.
It’s a dream site for a milk processor because Tulare’s waste water treatment plant is next door and accepts “high strength” effluent, so Calicheese won’t have build a pre-treatment facility, said Lew Nelson, public works director.
Tulare is in the heart of dairy country and is home to six milk processing plants: Haagen-Daz, Land O’ Lakes, Morningstar, Kraft and two Saputo cheese plants. Calicheese’s chief operating officer Daryl Boddicker is a former Kraft Foods executive who helped launch the Tulare plant.
A bonus for the city is that its $700,000 environmental impact report, written for a meat processing plant at the same site that was never built, can now be put to use.
Calicheese can use the report because the environmental impacts are similar and the report is less than five years old, said Traci Myers, economic development director.