COLUMBUS, Ohio (COLUMBUS BUSINESS FIRST)–Columbus beat out cities like Phoenix, Arizona, and Reno, Nevada, for a manufacturing facility for a sandwich and wrap-making company, which city leaders say is no surprise given what the region offers.
SK Food Group plans to lease a 144,000-square-foot facility at 2955-3035 Charter St. in Columbus, in addition to retaining its existing manufacturing plant in Groveport. The Groveport location has about 600 employees with $25 million worth of payroll.
SK Food Group produces sandwiches, wraps, protein snacks, flatbreads, burgers and more and has eight locations across North America.
Dan Barton, chief operating officer for SK Food Group, said the company looked nationally and regionally for a place to put a new facility. The company decided to double down on their Columbus investment for a number of reasons, he said.
“Columbus works for us,” Barton said.
Columbus is the easternmost facility the company has, so adding on here is a strategic move. There is also a lot of leadership talent already based in Columbus and the talent pipeline is key, Barton said.
“Talent is our No. 1 priority,” Barton said. “Skilled labor is a big part of our value proposition.”
Columbus leaders say the city is able to beat out other places when it comes to attracting jobs because of the public-private partnerships the city has, the city’s location, the existing talent and the talent pipeline. And incentives don’t hurt.
Columbus City Council approved on Monday a five-year incentive of 30%, or 30% for in-Columbus hires, for SK Food Group. The incentive will save the company $465,000 to $542,000 if it creates all 305 pledged jobs, depending on the mix of employee residency, and net the city more than $1 million in new income tax.
The Columbus facility will house all new employees and include cold storage for ready-to-eat product manufacturing. The investment will be put toward new machinery, equipment, and leasehold improvements, Barton said.
“Our workforce is one of the best in the nation. Both the talent level, we have and the talent pipeline that we’re creating is really important,” said Columbus’ Development Director Michael Stevens.
Stevens said the city, along with One Columbus and JobsOhio, helped to find a site for SK Food group to open a new facility. One Columbus is a big reason that SK Food Group is in Columbus in the first place, Barton said.
“We have had phenomenal partnership and support from One Columbus,” he said.
Barton said this investment will likely be a catalyst for other investments from SK Food Group, like a distribution facility or an equipment and technology validation center.
“This is a great example of that private-public private partnership on economic development,” Stevens said. “We know for companies like this, and a lot of other companies in Columbus, they’re looking throughout the country to best meet their needs. And I think we put together a compelling case of why Columbus is worth that investment and bringing those 300 jobs here. We’re happy to see that decision made by SK.”
Stevens said the city generally will not incentivize jobs paying less than $15 an hour, but seeks to incentivize a wide array of job types.
“We really focus on those jobs that are going to help increase the median household income in the city and really give people an opportunity to build wealth. So not every job is a tech job, not every job is an industrial manufacturing job. We think there’s a good mix,” Stevens said.
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