Koch Foods’ $220M expansion project would create 400 new jobs in Fairfield

Koch Foods in Fairfield plans to expand its facility by adding three new production lines over two phases. The company plans to invest $220 million in building construction and the purchase of machinery and equipment. FILE PHOTO
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Koch Foods in Fairfield plans to expand its facility by adding three new production lines over two phases. The company plans to invest $220 million in building construction and the purchase of machinery and equipment. FILE PHOTO

Credit: Nick Daggy

Credit: Nick Daggy

City’s largest industrial business planning 400K-plus-square-foot addition near its main campus.

Fairfield’s largest industrial business has created hundreds of jobs in the past decade, and the company could add at least 400 more over the next few years.

Koch Foods, 4100 Port Union Road, plans to create at least 400 new jobs as it builds a new 400,000-plus-square-foot addition just north of its main campus, according to plans submitted to the city and Butler County.

The company will ask Fairfield City Council on Monday for a tax break on the project, according to city documents. The city is ready to offer Koch Foods a 75% tax exemption for real property improvements over a 10-year period, according to the proposed tax deal with the city.

“Should this project proceed, the total building investment for the expansion is estimated at $140 million,” said Fairfield Economic Development Manager Nathaniel Kaelin in a staff report. “The company also estimates an investment of $80 million in new machinery and equipment.”

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

As part of the deal, Koch Foods will retain its existing 1,190 full-time employees ― they reported to the Ohio Department of Development 1,281 full- and part-time employees as of the end of 2020 ― and will create 400 new full-time jobs within three years of completing the building, which completion is anticipated by December 2022. The project will begin in earnest on Oct. 1, though the company has been clearing the topographically challenged land to the north of its Port Union facility.

The company said it was requesting the expansion in Fairfield because it was the preferred option as “(the) chicken industry is very competitive with low margins,” according to its city application for a tax break. Officials said they were “getting competitive quotes from three to four other states,” according to the document.

The 402,140-square-foot expansion would allow the company to add two production lines, bringing its total number of production lines to nine. This phase of the expansion would make Koch Foods the city’s second-largest business behind Cincinnati Financial.

Part of the project will also see $1.5 million invested for sewer line improvements to the site, which would be treated by Butler County Water and Sewer.

The company could have a second phase to this expansion project, which would include adding a third production line ― ultimately giving the chicken processor 10 total lines ― which could result in 200 more jobs, according to city documents. If Koch Foods proceeds with a second phase of the project, the city will construct a new water tower. Koch Foods will contribute to the cost by way of a 20% utility surcharge, helping to offset the cost of a new water tower.

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

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Last week, Public Utilities Director Adam Sackenheim told the Journal-News the city was planning to build a sixth water tower “to address our growing industrial demand.” He confirmed this week, the Koch Foods project is a big reason why that sixth tower is needed. The new tower would be between 1 million and 1.5 million gallons, Sackenheim said. The location of the new tower would be along Port Union Road as City Council agreed in May to purchase 1.25 acres for a new tower.

Koch Foods has been steadily growing over the past decade, creating hundreds of new jobs. The company announced in 2018 it would create 150 new jobs. In 2015, the company had around 600 employees. From 2012 to 2018, Koch Foods invested $50 million in building expansion and new equipment, the company told the Journal-News in 2018.

Koch Foods is headquartered in Chicago and has manufacturing facilities in Alabama, Illinois, Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Its Fairfield operations opened in 1999 and is the city’s largest industrial employer and largest water and sewer customer.

Koch Foods purchased an 18.1-acre adjacent parcel for $300,000 to the north of its Port Union Road facility and plans to invest $220 million to expand. The company will spend $120 million to construct the building, $20 million to make improvements to its current facility, and $80 million to purchase machinery and equipment, according to city documents.

The expansion will allow the manufacturer of poultry products to add two new production lines, and a possible third. This will bring the company’s total production lines up to a possible 10 if they add all three, according to city documents.

Fairfield City Council meets at 7 p.m. Monday at the Fairfield Municipal Building, 5350 Pleasant Ave.