More bacon will mean 384 new jobs at Dold Foods north Wichita plant, a company official said.
A ceremony Thursday marked the start of construction on a $132 million expansion project at the 2929 N. Ohio plant. The 156,000-square-foot expansion will allow the addition of pre-cooked bacon production.
Dold will begin hiring for the new jobs starting next spring, said Joe Peine, general manager of the 275-employee plant. The bulk of those new jobs, which he called production professionals, require people who can work with their hands repetitively, can lift at least 50 pounds and have good communication skills. Pay for those jobs is about $17 an hour, he said, not including benefits.
Other positions will require more skilled and experienced workers in areas such as quality control, maintenance and supervision.
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Applications for the new jobs will be available at the company’s plant or at the Wichita Workforce Center, 2021 N. Amidon, Suite 1100.
The plant handles an average of 1 million pounds of raw bacon a week, Peine said. The expansion, which includes a $50 million building and $82 million for new machinery and equipment, allows the company to begin production of pre-cooked bacon at the Wichita plant, effectively doubling its production, Peine said.
Completion of the project is expected by December 2018.
Peine and other officials at the groundbreaking repeatedly referred to 350 new jobs in their speeches, but Peine said in an interview afterward the company is “still comfortable we’ll get to 384.”
“We fully intend to get to that five-year target,” he said.
It’s an important figure because, according to city documents, it’s tied to a tax exemption on the expansion that the Wichita City Council approved in August.
Hormel Foods, the Minnesota-based parent of Dold, will receive a 100 percent tax exemption for the expansion for the next five years. The exemption is worth $1.2 million in estimated tax value to the city, state, county and schools in the first year, according to city documents.
The council could add a second five-year exemption later.