Clemens Food Group, the Montgomery County pork producer that makes the hot dogs, sausage, pulled pork, and ribs sold at Phillies games, plans to build a $255.7 million pork processing plant in Michigan.
The announcement by the Michigan Economic Development Corp. is a win for Pennsylvania, which will keep 2,200 employees at the Clemens headquarters in Hatfield, and for Michigan, which will gain 810 new jobs.
Formerly known as Hatfield Quality Meats, Clemens is a sixth-generation family-owned business founded in 1895. The new Coldwater plant will be operating by early 2018.
"The Hatfield facility is going to continue operating at the same level," said Clemens spokesman John Masotta. "Consumers can be sure that the same high quality, consistent products are going to come from this facility. Our commitment to Hatfield is as strong now as it ever has been."
The Michigan Strategic Fund approved $12.5 million in community development block grant funds Tuesday for infrastructure improvements, land acquisition, workforce development and on-the-job training for the plant.
Michigan wooed Clemens Food. The Detroit Free Press reported that Michigan lost its last major pork processing plant when Thorn Apple Valley shut down its Detroit slaughterhouse and let go 1,000 workers in 1998, a year before declaring bankruptcy. Since then, Michigan farmers have shipped hogs out of state for processing.
According to the announcement, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development worked with Michigan pork producers for about three years and spent $100,000 on a feasibility assessment to build a 550,000-square foot pork processing plant in Coldwater Township.
Clemens Food Group considered both Michigan and Ohio for a Midwest expansion of its pork processing operations, and chose Michigan based on state and community support, site feasibility, and labor force preparedness, the company said.
As part of a land transfer, the City of Coldwater in Branch County near the Indiana and Ohio borders will contribute $4.5 million for infrastructure improvements, including water and sewer main extensions, and a new municipal electric overhead distribution line. The total local and state economic package will be $55 million, including $16 million in tax savings as a result of Michigan's recently approved personal property tax reform, state economic development officials said.
"The new project in Coldwater Township is agricultural entrepreneurism at its best," Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder said in a statement.
The announcement "marks a major milestone in the history of our company and the future of pork production in the state of Michigan," said Clemens Food Group chief executive officer Doug Clemens.
The plant will process fresh pork into cuts such as tenderloin, pork chops, and fresh ham. It will not produce processed pork such as bacon or sausage.
"The Hatfield facility will continue to operate as it is operating today," Masotta said. "We're creating 810 new jobs. We won't be moving any jobs from here to there."
Clemens will partner with 10 family-owned farms that will raise the hogs, primarily in Michigan but also in Indiana and Ohio, Masotta said.