By Karen Hall
A new industry that will bring almost 50 jobs to Marshall County is one step closer to opening for business.
The site plan for Project Cloud's new factory, to be built in Lewisburg's I-65 Commerce Park, was approved last week at a meeting of the planning and zoning commission.
"You're not ready to move dirt yet, but you're an awful lot closer," exclaimed chairman Jim Bingham at the end of the meeting.
Wayne Wolf of Imperial Foods was welcomed to the meeting, and introduced to Mayor Barbara Woods.
Wolf explained his company manufactures and packages food for the military and for grocery stores.
The company plans to build a 65,000 square foot factory here, preparing five to six million pounds of smoked meats per year, as well as the company's special energy drink for the armed forces.
The manufacturing facility is being relocated from a site 45 miles west of Chicago, but only about 15 employees will move here, leaving nearly 50 jobs to be filled locally.
"We're so glad you've come," said Bingham.
The state infrastructure grant, to which both city and county contributed matching funds, was delayed but has finally come through. It will fund the provision of water, sewer and electric lines to Imperial Food's building site at the I-65 Commerce Park.
"It's put them behind a little bit," said Industrial Development Director Greg Lowe at the city council's meeting last week. "Imperial has been very patient with holdups from the state," he added.
T-Square Engineering of Columbia has been doing the site plan.
"It was finished until yesterday," Wolf said. Then they found a creek at the back of the property has been deemed "a blue-line stream." By moving the turn-around area for trucks over a little, it can be kept 30 feet from the stream and no ARAP (Aquatic Resource Alteration Plan) will be needed.
The planning and zoning commission unanimously voted to approve Imperial Food's site plan, even though a few elements, like the grading plan and the Storm Water Prevention Plan were not finished at the time of the meeting. The site plan is subject to approval by Codes and Stormwater Manager Buck Beard and city engineer Jim Patterson.
"If we can pull that off in two weeks, I'll be very happy," said Lowe.
"We are trying our level best to expedite this thing," added Bingham.