Michigan City bakery expands, could add 30 jobs

2012-10-12T00:00:00Z Michigan City bakery expands, could add 30 jobsStan Maddux Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
October 12, 2012 12:00 am  • 

A Michigan City bakery that turns out cookies and other snack foods for major brands is expanding again.

''We couldn't be more thrilled that they continue to invest,'' said Kevin Kieft, executive director of the Michigan City Economic Development Corp.

Hearthside Food Solutions received approval this week from the Michigan City Board of Zoning Appeals for a more than $6 million expansion of its existing plant at U.S. 20 and Ohio Street on the city's west side.

Hearthside Food Solutions plant manager Bob Wojick said 8,600 square feet will be added to the current 180,000-square-foot facility.

He said the expansion will allow a new ''cracker-based product'' to be made for a major customer.

The expansion comes after Hearthside Foods in 2011 spent $4.5 million on extra production space for a new customer one year after buying the Michigan City plant.

Wojick said last year's expansion created about 90 new jobs and the upcoming addition of another new product line could potentially add up to 30 skilled factory positions to the existing 425 workers, he said.

Headquartered in Downers Grove, Ill., Hearthside Food Solutions operates 12 manufacturing facilities in seven states and acquired the Michigan City facility in May 2010 as part of its acquisition of McComb, Ohio-based Consolidated Biscuit Co.

The plant formerly known as Michigan City Baking has operated here for about a half century.

So far, Wojcik said, Hearthside Food Solutions has spent more than $6 million to upgrade the equipment and infrastructure to better position the facility for the future.

He said no additional expansions are planned yet but he wouldn't rule out that possibility due to the company's commitment to the Michigan City site.

''They want to invest in this operation here and grow and expand it,'' said Wojcik.

Hearthside Foods makes various baked goods like cookies, crackers and brownies for major brands regularly seen nationwide on store shelves.

Kieft said the investment in the plant is huge, especially given current economic concerns.

''It shows the quality of the workers we have here and the quality of the products that are being put out at this location,'' Kieft said, noting the significant role and history of the bakery.

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