Koch Foods’ $220 million expansion in Fairfield will add 600 new jobs, GM says

Koch Foods in Fairfield received a tax incentive to expand its facility by adding three new production lines over two phases which will attract upwards of 600 new jobs. The company plans to invest $220 million in building construction and the purchase of machinery and equipment. FILE PHOTO
Caption
Koch Foods in Fairfield received a tax incentive to expand its facility by adding three new production lines over two phases which will attract upwards of 600 new jobs. The company plans to invest $220 million in building construction and the purchase of machinery and equipment. FILE PHOTO

Credit: HANDOUT

Credit: HANDOUT

As a result of a $220 million expansion project, Koch Foods in Fairfield is set to increase its staffing by close to 50%, making it one of Butler County’s top employers.

Fairfield City Council on Monday approved a 10-year, 75% tax exemption for property improvements to help Koch Foods’ $220 million expansion of its campus onto an 18.1-acre undeveloped site. The company agreed to compensate Fairfield City Schools and Butler Tech for lost tax revenues due to the abatement, according to the agreement.

This project has been two years in the making, said Fairfield Economic Development Manager Nathaniel Kaelin, and “we’re really excited to be at this point.”

“They are able to make this work because they are leveraging their existing 45-acre site,” he said.

The scope of the project includes the construction of a 402,140-square-foot building on the undeveloped land north of its campus at 4100 Port Union Road in Phase 1. This phase also includes adding two production lines, 400 total new jobs, and $1.5 million in sewer line improvements to the site to be treated by Butler County Water and Sewer.

Today, the company has close to 1,200 full-time and 130 part-time jobs.

The first new jobs will be front office and sales positions, and the lion’s share of the jobs, which would be related to the production lines, won’t be filled until at least October 2022 ― but it could be November 2022 ― said Koch Foods’ Fairfield General Manager Brian Reisen, who has been with the Fairfield location since it opened in 1999.

Koch Foods in FairfieldSTAFF FILE PHOTO
Caption
Koch Foods in FairfieldSTAFF FILE PHOTO

“We’ll start bringing them on at least 30 days in advance (of completion of the new building) and start training and working in the existing facility,” he said. Within two years of the building’s completion, all 400 jobs promised in this first phase should be in place.

The company is also planning to add 200 more jobs not long after the new building is complete in a second phase, Reisen said. The general manager said these additional jobs would be needed in the growing meat processing industry.

Phase 2, which Reisen said is expected to happen, would have a third production line added, giving the poultry processor 10 production lines. It would require Fairfield to construct a 1-million- to 1.5-million-gallon water tower at a $3.5 million cost. Koch Foods would pay a 20% surcharge over a 10-year period on new water usage to offset about $1 million for the new water tower.

Fairfield was preparing for the need for a sixth water tower in May when City Council agreed to purchase 1.25 acres on Port Union Road for a new tower.

Koch Foods in Fairfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO
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Koch Foods in Fairfield. STAFF FILE PHOTO

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Koch Foods is required to give Fairfield 18 months notice before adding the third production line. Koch Foods is the city’s largest utility customer.

When both phases are complete, the company will have 600 new employees, and Reisen said he met with JobsOhio and REDI Cincinnati on Tuesday for help finding these new employees.

“They have a great pulse on the local labor market,” he said. “We do business in six states, I don’t know a single location within our company, or anyone in the industry ― or manufacturing for that matter ― that isn’t looking for more help.”

Reisen said he’s “excited” about the future of the poultry processing plant, which also processes beef and pork, and non-protein products, like veggie burgers.

“We’ve been blessed with business, but we’ve also done a great job ― our (Koch Foods Fairfield) team is unbelievable ― and we have a lot of business that renews with us and wants to do more with us,” he said, adding that the company does $3.5 billion in sales.

Reisen said the Koch Foods could consider the vegan meat business (the biggest businesses are Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods) as it “is an emerging market.”

“Once we have the capacity, which we don’t have today, we can possibly entertain some of that business,” he said.

The expansion project will set Koch Foods up to be one of the top five Butler County employers, and No. 2 in Fairfield. After filling the planned 600 new jobs, the food processor will have close to 2,000 total employees.

Reisen said Koch Foods considered other locations for its expansion, but Fairfield was the preferred option.

“We love the relationship we have with Fairfield, we like the idea of leveraging the existing talent pool, from a leadership and a technical skills standpoint to do this business expansion,” he said.

The project requires 220,000 cubic yards of dirt to be removed from the property, and utility work is expected to start in November. Construction of the building will start in early 2022, Reisen said.

“The activity between say June 1 and Oct. 1 next year will be fast and furious,” he said. “You’ll have a lot of simultaneous (projects) going on.”

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