Ken’s Foods plans $90M plant, 150 jobs in Lebanon

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A maker of salad dressings and other sauces plans to invest $90 million to construct and equip a manufacturing facility in Lebanon.

Marlborough, Massachusetts-based Ken’s Foods Inc. will build a 320,000-square-foot plant on 40 acres in Lebanon Business Park, which sits west of Interstate 65 between State Road 32 and State Road 39.

The company will create 150 jobs with salaries “well above $20 per hour,” according to Boone County Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Molly Whitehead. The average wage in Boone County is $18.60 per hour.

Ken’s Foods, which manufactures and distributes Ken's salad dressings as well as Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce, currently has facilities in three states—Massachusetts, Georgia and Nevada, according to Whitehead.

The Lebanon operation is expected to produce 150 million to 200 million pounds of dressings, sauces and marinades each year for customers across Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.

The company considered several other Indiana sites and at least one out-of-state location before choosing the Lebanon Business Park, Whitehead said.

Lebanon Mayor Matt Gentry and Whitehead credited the city’s convenient location between Chicago and Indianapolis and its recent announcement about becoming a CSX Select Site as reasons why Ken’s Foods picked the 1,250-acre business park.

In 2010, Duke Realty Corp. and Lebanon invested a total of $4 million to bring rail service to the development. Earlier this month, Jacksonville, Florida-based CSX announced the designation, which indicates the park has development-ready properties along the CSX rail network with land-use issues already addressed. That means the time required to construct a facility should be reduced. 

“That was really a key driver of this whole project,” Whitehead said.

Lebanon Business Park is expected to eventually include nearly 8 million square feet of industrial, manufacturing and distribution space spread across 17 buildings.

The Lebanon City Council on Monday night approved a four-year real and personal property tax abatement for Ken’s Foods that is expected to save the company about $4.2 million.

“Lebanon is kind of making itself a food manufacturing hub,” Gentry said. “These really are the kinds of jobs we’re targeting.”

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Ken’s Foods up to $1.4 million in tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company’s job-creation plans. The incentives are performance-based, meaning the company cannot claim them until workers are hired.

Construction on the facility could start this year, but it isn’t expected to be operational until 2017.

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