JONESBORO - A little bit of Chicago is coming to Jonesboro and that will result in as many as 200 new jobs. Nestle officials announced today that they're getting into pizza production at their Jonesboro plant. The announcement means a 60 million dollar expansion to nestle's frozen foods manufacturing facility, which opened just five years ago.
"Build it and they will come," said Andy Darley, Jonesboro Nestle Factory Manager at a late morning press conference.
"Build it" is exactly what Nestle officials plan to do. Top corporate officials were in town to announce plans for a major expansion. Work is already underway on a 50-thousand square foot manufacturing area to the north of the plant. It's here that a new bakery will operate.
"Today, we're announcing not only this new project... but we will actually be introducing you to a new neighbor in Jonesboro: Nation's Pizza, " announced Dale Morsefield, Vice-President of Supply Chain and Operations for Nestle.
A family operation which started out in Chicago over 50 years ago, Nation Pizza specializes in dough-based products.
"We came up with a manufacturing process to manufacture pizza crusts which has led into Nation," said Jay Bauer, President of Nation Pizza.
This step is a first for Nestle. They are experts at meal preparation. Nation Pizza knows dough. At this facility, Nestle will own the production line and Nation Pizza will oversee operations.
"With the technology that we've already invested in this factory, it was a natural that we would build on those equities, said Morsefield. "And make this decision to come here with these products."
Time and time again, Nestle officials pointed to an excellent local workforce as one reason for making their decision and the governor says he's hearing a lot about Jonesboro while traveling these days.
"The reputation is out there in terms of a quality workforce and a good work ethic and a community that is obviously a bright and shinign star as far as I'm concerned," said Governor Mike Beebe following today's announcement.
"This part is the new bakery portion," said a company official pointing a highlighted area on an artist's rendering.
It's not certain when hiring will begin for the new facilities which are highlighted in white on this artist rendering. Once construction is complete, the Jonesboro Nestle plant will begin making Lean Cuisine Brick Oven style pizzas and Stouffer's Corner Bistro flatbreads.
Local dignitaries, chamber members and state lawmakers had the chance to sample some of these products today.
With the expansion announced today comes a state-of-the art topping and packaging line for the facility.