Burley clears way for food plant expansion
Carol Ryan Dumas
The expansion of McCain Foods' potato processing operation in Burley, Idaho, announced in August, moved forward in the process with action today by the Burley City Council. The City Council started the process of designating a new urban renewal project that will allow the Burley Development Authority to put together an incentive package for McCain, which was part of negtiations for the expansion.
A $100 million expansion to McCain Foods’ potato processing operation in Burley, Idaho, announced in August, has taken another step forward with action by the Burley City Council Monday.
The City Council passed a resolution to begin the process of designating a deteriorated area to form a fourth urban renewal area for the Burley Development Authority (BDA) in the vicinity of McCain’s expansion. It also passed a resolution for a finding of fact on the need to establish a new urban renewal area and to designate boundaries for the area, said Melanie Haynes, Burley city clerk.
The city’s actions were needed to create a new revenue allocation area for the urban renewal district, which allows BDA to put an incentive package together and the city to compete for McCain’s project, said Doug Manning, Burley economic development director.
The BDA will be working with Cassia County to designate money for the project and is waiting on engineering estimates. The money will mostly be used for electrical upgrades and public infrastructure and possibly rail enhancement, he said.
Manning said he doesn’t yet know what will qualify in the incentive package or how long it will take to put it together but it was part of negotiations with McCain to expand in the area.
Burley City Administrator Mark Mitton said the process is just beginning but it would take 60 to 90 days after the start of the new year to form a new urban renewal area.
McCain has been talking about an expansion at the plant for the past couple of years, but negotiations with the city began last spring. The company employs more than 500 workers, and the expansion is expected to add another 100 to 130, he said.
“It’s a good deal for the whole area, more employees, more opportunity for growers. They’ve been here a long time, we know them, they do a good job, and we’re excited about it,” Mitton said.
In August, McCain announced it will invest in a new building and a third production line at its operations just west of Burley. The company expected the new third line to be operational at the end of 2015 and said the original plant, built in the 1960s, would continue production during the expansion.
Frank van Schaayk, McCain’s regional president for the Americas, said the expansion is the result of increasing demand for potato products from customers nationwide.
The investment in the Burley plant is due to the area’s strong potato grower community, highly capable workforce and tremendous support for the local and state government, he said in August.
The expansion will add a number of employees at the plant, and McCain will buy more potatoes locally when the new production line is operational, plant manager Jeff McCray said in August.
McCain Foods is the leading supplier of frozen potatoes and snack food products for the foodservice market and also supplies retail grocery chains with both McCain and private label potato products.
The matter of a new urban renewal area will go through public hearings and notification to neighbors before it could be approved, Haynes said.