SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- Springfield's Kraft plant could potentially see a $55 million expansion to upgrade existing product lines and create new ones. It is not a done deal yet, because Springfield is competing with another community, and the expansion hinges on whether city council approves a tax incentive.
They've been making products like Kraft Macaroni and Cheese and Velveeta in Springfield since 1939. The Kraft plant's workforce of 975 isn't expected to significantly grow, but the proposed expansion is a big deal. "It's a great expansion and it's a great investment in our community. 55 million is obviously a lot of money," says Springfield Economic Development Director Mary Lily Smith.
The company is requesting up to $55 million in industrial development revenue bonds to upgrade technology and add a pasta line to the the Springfield plant. "These are things we are strongly considering and we hope can happen," says Joyce Hodel, Kraft Foods spokesperson.
Kraft would pay back the bonds over 10 years. In the meantime, the company would get a 50% property tax discount on the new equipment, which would actually belong to the city for the length of the agreement.
"That really is a statement that they like being in Springfield and they want to reinvest in Springfield and hopefully we'll go a long ways toward preserving those really good paying jobs that are over at Kraft," says Smith.
"It would help maintain the existing workforce in Springfield and protect it's long term viability of the facility," Hodel says.
City council would have to approve issuing the bonds, the same type used in two other recent projects- $21 1/2 million for the BKD building inn 2008 and $65 million just last December for upgrades to the former Solo cup plant.
"The Solo folks are still developing their plan. We expect that to come back before council in the next couple of months, and we expect the Kraft plant to also come back within the next month or so," Smith says.