New business investment in Granite City tops $1 billion

News-DemocratAugust 21, 2013 

Reinvestment in Granite City's industrial and business sector since the recession has reached $1 billion.

A new report said the city well known for its steel plants has achieved strong gains in corporate business, private business and public investment over the past six years. The city reports that more than 600 jobs have been created and more than 4,600 jobs have been retained in this time.

Jon Ferry, the city's economic development director, said surpassing $1 billion in recent investment is a major milestone for the city.

"I think it shows that despite the uncertainty with the levees and obviously the economy, our existing businesses have shown this is a good place to do business and they continue to invest here," Ferry said.

More than $900 million in investment has come from private business. Of that, more than $8 million recently has been invested downtown along Niedringhaus Avenue, including a new three-screen movie theater that was built and opened in 2010. The $4 million theater was funded by downtown tax increment financing funds. A new microbrewery and smokehouse are planned to move into an existing space downtown at 1324 Niedringhaus Ave.

Nearby, at 1800 Adams St., Prairie Farms Dairy recently completed its fourth phase of its $25 million expansion and added 25 new jobs. This year, Illinois-American Water Co. is investing $12.9 million in its Granite City Water Treatment Plant at 2000 W. 24 St.

In April, the nation's fourth-largest producer of food for the Asian restaurant industry will reoccupy the former Archer-Daniels Midland Co. plant at 20th Street and Rock Road. The company has operated from the National Stockyards near the metro-east riverfront for the past 18 years. It manufactures egg roll and wonton wrappers, fresh and dried noodles and fortune cookies. The company will bring in about 100 jobs and invest $5 million.

A total of 30 individual businesses have invested $1 million or more by way of expansion projects in the city during the past six years. That includes the new $570 million coke energy plant built by United States Steel and SunCoke Energy. Other smaller projects include Illinois Electric Works and Arnette Pattern Co., which have invested approximately $3 million and $2.3 million, respectively.

Kraft Foods recently announced its plans to invest $40 million to expand its plant on Missouri Avenue and add 30 jobs. The project is expected to get underway soon and calls for reconfiguring the plant's interior to provide additional space, add new equipment and open four new lines to fill Capri Sun pouches.

The plant and 395,000-square-foot warehouse at 2901 Missouri Ave. employ 410 workers who produce more than 100 varieties of Capri Sun and Kool-Aid ready-to-drink beverages. The new investment is the company's third expansion project since Kraft Foods took over the Capri Sun building in 1991. Production capacity was expanded in the mid-1990s and a warehouse added in 2001.

In a released statement, Kraft Foods Granite City plant manager Scott Frick thanked the local economic development team form the city, county and state for their support of this project.

"We're pleased to be making a significant equipment investment here and plan to add 30 jobs over the next two years," Frick said. "We have an excellent, dedicated workforce locally, which is an important consideration when adding jobs."

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 618-239-2526.

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