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The Journal Gazette

Friday, August 10, 2018 1:00 am

Cheesemaker plans Warren plant

Italian company plans to bring 35 jobs by 2021

SHERRY SLATER | The Journal Gazette

Fourth-generation Italian cheesemakers have chosen Huntington County for a $9.5 million investment expected to create up to 35 jobs by 2021, officials announced Thursday.

Golfo di Napoli Dairy will make organic mozzarella, ricotta, provolone, burrata and other cheeses in a 30,000-square-foot plant it will construct in Warren. Groundbreaking is scheduled for next month and production is expected to begin in February.

Wages will begin at $26 an hour. The dairy plans to start hiring by the end of this year.

The plant will use USDA certified organic milk from Fair Oaks Farms to make organic cheese using the pasta filata technique traditionally practiced in the Naples region of Italy.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, who also serves as Indiana's agriculture secretary, noted that about 107,500 jobs are supported by the state's agriculture industry.

“With nearly 1,000 Hoosier dairies and 26 dairy processing plants, Golfo di Napoli Dairy will have quick and plentiful access to fresh milk, making Indiana the perfect fit for its first U.S. production facility,” she said in a statement.

The 40-acre site – along Internet 69 at Exit 278 – has been identified on the county's long-range planning document for years as being a prime location for business investment. 

Larry Buzzard, president of the Huntington County Board of Commissioners and board member for the Huntington County Economic Development Corp., said working with the Indiana Site Certified program intensified interest in the location.

“I can't say enough about the state and local collaboration it's taken to make this possible,” Buzzard said in a statement.

“Teamwork like this produces great results.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered Golfo di Napoli Dairy up to $300,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company's job creation plans. The Huntington County Board of Commissioners approved additional grant funding at the request of Huntington County Economic Development Corp.

Mark Wickersham is thrilled by the investment – and not just because it means more jobs in his county.

The executive director of the Huntington County Economic Development Corp. sampled Golfo di Napoli Dairy's ricotta and can't remember ever tasting cheese that smooth and creamy.

“My problem's going to be it may be healthy, but I'm going to eat twice as much of it,” the lasagna lover said. “I've never had cheese this good, ever. I'm going to need more exercise.”

sslater@jg.net