By Karen Hall
A special called meeting of Lewisburg's Industrial Development Board made it official Thursday: a new industry is coming to town.
IFS and RCFS (Imperial Food Service and Red Cloud Food Service) will be leasing 20 acres in the I-65 Commerce Park, building a 60,000 to 65,000 square-foot building, and hiring 40 to 50 local production workers. They should be fully operational by the summer of 2013.
"This is a good day," said Director of Industrial Development Greg Lowe. "This is a company we will be proud to have."
Lowe let Justin Wolf, vice president and general manager, explain what the company, which has been code named "Project Cloud," is, and what it does.
"It's actually two businesses," Wolf said. "Imperial Food Service and Red Cloud Food Service. We are a frozen food and beverage manufacturer."
The majority of their business is related to the Department of Defense and a defense logistics agency. Most of their product is exported, especially to the Middle East where the greatest number of armed forces is stationed.
Wolf said they also do a lot of disaster relief business, assembling "box meals" for the federal government to distribute to victims.
"Since Katrina, we have been second or third in the country in supplying box meals to the federal government," Wolf said.
IFS and RCFS also make private-label products for grocery chains, such as frozen sandwiches.
Currently the companies are located in South Elgin, Ill., but Illinois is a "business disaster" right now, according to Wolf, with "taxes out of control."
"Tennessee is a great solution for us," Wolf said, explaining that they looked everywhere in the mid-state, even downtown Nashville. "After meeting Greg (Lowe) and a number of people, we decided this is where we want to be."
About 15 of the core management team will move to Tennessee, Wolf said, but 47 - or more - production workers will be hired locally. They want to "move as fast as possible" and hope to break ground for the building in 45 to 60 days. The building should be finished by the end of March 2013, and fully operational by the summer. They are looking for state grant money to help with site infrastructure, and a Tennessee Department of Transportation grant to pay for paving the road in the business park that goes past the newly leased property.
"You did it, boy; I'm proud of you," Councilman Robin Minor said congratulatng Lowe after the short meeting.
The resolution that was unanimously approved gives the Industrial Development Board the authority to work out a PILOT agreement with IFS and RCFS.