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Region's largest tortilla maker moves from E.C. to Hammond

Region's largest tortilla maker moves from E.C. to Hammond

HAMMOND | The region's largest tortilla maker is moving its operations to North Hammond.

After more than 30 years in East Chicago, Tortilleria Nuevo Leon will begin producing its tortillas, chorizos, cheeses, salsas and crunchy snacks in the former Lay-Z-Boy warehouse at 724 Hoffman St. this summer.

"We're moving everything -- manufacturing, warehousing and shipping -- to Hammond," said Jamie Martinez, who operates the business with his sister Olga and brother Jesus, along with their parents, Maria and Oscar, who founded the company in 1975.

Nuevo Leon employs 40 to make and distribute products in 16 states for more than $5 million in annual sales, and the company has outgrown its former space at 1015 W. Chicago Ave., Martinez said.

In 1995, the firm expanded across the street in East Chicago to add the old Calumet Tobacco building for a warehouse and office space, but Martinez said the company's success made it clear they needed more room.

"The Lay-Z-Boy site had everything we needed," Martinez said, "All under one roof -- and plenty of room to grow."

The property had only been on the market for three or four months, said Robert Lendi, Hammond economic development director, before Nuevo Leon signed the contract to buy.

The tortilla maker is only the first of several businesses relocating to Hammond from East Chicago, Lendi said, "all decent companies," with official announcements to follow later this year.

Martinez said the North Hammond facility will be used for warehousing at first, with full production scheduled to begin there in late August or early September.

"I can't wait until I see 'Made in Hammond' on the backs of those packages," Lendi said.

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