By Ryan Cornell -- Daily Staff Reporter
When dairy brand HP Hood invests $84.6 million into increasing its ultra-high temperature production capacity at its Winchester plant, it will mark the largest investment by an expanding company in Frederick County in 30 years.
"We're extremely pleased that they have made this historical decision," said Patrick Barker, executive director of the Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission. "It's one of the largest expansions we could find in our record books here. When you have something of this magnitude, it means a little bit more."
Barker said that the commission first heard about Hood's plans for expansion in early March and that the process should start later this year, stretching through the next 12 to 24 months.
The Winchester location is one of the company's 15 plants across the country. "From the initial reception, the workforce and the infrastructure in place," Barker said about Hood's decision to invest in Frederick County, "I think it comes down to experience they had."
Suzanne West, communications manager at the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said they administered two incentives: a $500,000 grant from the Governor's Opportunity Fund and a $1 million performance-based grant.
"It puts Virginia ahead of the competition," West said. "It's huge for the county, the region and the state."
Based in Lynnfield, Mass., Hood's dairy products include Hershey's milk, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze almond milk and Baileys coffee creamers. The Winchester plant first opened in 2001 with 170 employees and has been steadily growing since then. The 75 additional jobs will bring its total employment up to 500 workers.
HP Hood spokesperson Lynne Bohan said that the majority of these new jobs will be operating positions from within the plant and will be permanent hourly positions.
Ultra-high temperature processing refers to a method of pasteurization, in which the product is heated for less than two seconds at a temperature exceeding 275 degrees Fahrenheit. This enables a higher rate of production and a longer shelf life.
"There's no change," Bohan said, referring to the future taste of the dairy products. "We're just going to be making more."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or email@example.com