By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor
Global food giant Nestlé broke ground Aug. 18 on a $20 million-plus, two-story, 75,000-square-foot expansion of its longtime L.J. Minor manufacturing plant in Cleveland. The Swiss food icon is also planning a major research-and-development facility in nearby Solon.
The West 25th Street facility opened in 1951 as L.J. Minor Corp. It became part of Nestle in 1986. Now employing 210 people, it produces ingredients for chain restaurants, other foodservice operators and industrial further-processors across the United States and Canada. The factory accounts for about 20 percent of U.S. sales for Nestle Professional and has never laid off a worker.
Nestlé expects the expansion to be completed in 2013. To replace the parking lot eliminated by the new building, the Swiss giant is trying to buy properties to the east, in the block bounded by West 18th and 19th streets, Auburn Avenue and Lamoille Court. Nestlé offered homeowners 10 percent more than market value for their properties, with offers ranging from $23,000 to $40,000.
Nestlé owns land to the west of the facility and plans to use it for short-term parking. Altough parking off West 19th would be safer for employees, Nestlé officials stated that the block is not essential for the expansion.
The block also contains several lots controlled by the city of Cleveland’s land bank. The city is helping Nestlé out with the land bank deals, providing a $250,000 forgivable loan to the company for acquisition and construction.
In Solon, Nestlé wants to expand its local and regional research facility to achieve an international scale. It currently employs 80 people and could add 40 to 60 new jobs. Such facilities typically cost between $50 million and $60 million to build. The project would be situated near Cannon Road and Hawthorn Parkway and would involve a new building on 18 acres. The property, which Nestlé already owns, is residential and would require a rezoning by voter referendum. Nestlé recently gathered 1,500 voter signatures.
The Switzerland-based food giant has 443 factories in 81 countries and, as of 2010, 281,000 employees, 2,408 of which are in Ohio. In this struggling economy, its decision to invest can only be good for the city of Cleveland.