MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Three cheesemakers are adding new cheese plants in Plattevile, Thorp and Pulaski and at least two are bringing jobs with them.
One of the bigger ones is Emmi Roth USA, which will put a $44 million plant in Platteville to produce specialty cheese starting next year.
It's expected to create up to 60 jobs, with average wages from $17 to $19 an hour, Platteville City Manager Larry Bierke told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/Ij3kvr ).
Emmi Roth wanted to expand its Monroe operations but needed access to more dairy herds and a larger production facility. The European-based company had $180 million in sales in 2011 and projects $400 million in sales by 2015.
Platteville agreed to give the company a $2 million grant to open a dairy plant in the city's industrial park. The company also could be eligible for an additional $1.6 million from the city.
It's a plus for the entire region, said Mike Powers, administrator of agricultural development for the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.
"With a new cheese plant coming in, there will be an increased demand for milk. It means that dairy farmers will have another location to ship their milk to," Powers said.
Green Bay-based BelGioioso Cheese Inc. is building a large plant in Pulaski, in addition to their five already in the area. The company didn't return calls from the newspaper for more information.
The third plant will be in Thorp, in Clark County and built by Holland's Family Cheese LLC. It's expected to be three times larger than their current plant there and add about 10 jobs.
"We have outgrown our facility," Kim Rabuck, Holland's general manager. "We have customers wanting more product, and we just can't provide it to them at the production level we are at now."
Wisconsin leads the nation in cheese production, said John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. There are 135 plants, up from 120 a decade ago.
For years, the number of plants dwindled with fewer farms and industry consolidation. Now there are numerous expansions under way, in addition to the new plants, Powers said.
"This is probably the second or third year of continued investments in dairy processing," he said.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com
Copyright 2012 The AP.