Chicago-based Bel Brands USA has announced plans to invest about $100 million to build a new 170,000-sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in Brookings, South Dakota, anticipated to employ up to 400 workers. The new plant will help the firm meet growing demand for its Mini Babybel cheese.
Bel Brands is the U.S. subsidiary of Paris-based Fromageries (a world leader in branded cheeses), and operates two other U.S. production facilities in Kentucky and Wisconsin. The company manufactures The Laughing Cow cheese wedges, Mini Babybel (America's #1 branded snacking cheese) and Boursin as well as other natural and gourmet cheese spreads.
The company will break ground this summer to begin the two-phase project. Bel expects to hire around 200 employees when the first phase of the plant becomes fully operational by 2014. The second phase--contingent on anticipated increased market demands-is planned for completion in 2016-2017, and should add 200 new jobs.
Lance Chambers, president and CEO of Bel Brands USA, said the "robust" South Dakota dairy industry and its "hard-working Midwestern values" make Brookings an ideal location for the new facility.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard said the project's impact goes beyond the creation of the new jobs and "beyond the estimated annual $500 million economic impact once the plant is fully operational." He added that having an internationally respected company like Bel Brands as the state's newest corporate citizen "tells the world that South Dakota is open and ready for business from anywhere around the globe."