Maker of tobacco alternative moving headquarters from California to Westfield

Grinds LLC, a producer of coffee-based alternatives to chewing tobacco, said Tuesday that it plans to relocate its headquarters and production facility from Oakland, California, to Westfield, investing $6.7 million and creating 56 Indiana jobs by 2023.

The company, which was founded in 2009 and once was featured on the TV show "Shark Tank," produces Grinds coffee pouches, which cost about $5 and contain flavored coffee designed as a healthy alternative to chewing tobacco.

Grinds plans to relocate operations to 17065 Oak Ridge Road, where it will lease and equip a 27,000-square-foot facility. The firm is hiring for a variety of posts, including chief financial officer, HR manager and forklift drivers.

The company's founders are college roommates and former minor league baseball players Matt Canepa and Pat Pezet, who sought to develop a healthy alternative to chewing tobacco for professional baseball players.

"When the founders of Grinds began the search for a new headquarters, I knew Indiana had to be at the top of the list," said Ken Warren, Grinds' chief operating officer. "Because of the collaborative efforts by the city of Westfield, state of Indiana and our site consultant, Resource, it was an easy choice to pick Westfield for our fast-growing business."

Grinds' Oakland facility employs 26 people. Warren said those workers were given the opportunity to relocate but chose not to. As a result, the company is filling all 56 positions through new hires, Warren told the Westfield City Council Monday night. The average salary will be $40,000.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Grinds LLC up to $250,000 in tax credits and up to $50,000 in training grants based on the company’s job-creation plans. The incentives are performance-based, meaning the company can't claim them until workers are hired.

In addition, the Westfield City Council Monday night approved a personal property tax abatement on a $5.6 million personal property investment by Grinds. The abatement will save the company $202,814.

Build-out of the facility is expected to begin this month, and the company plans to begin operating in Westfield in July.

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