By ANN ALLEN
CUMBERLAND, Ind. — Cumberland, an Indiana town divided by a line between Hancock and Marion counties, soon will be home to Peer Foods Group’s new production plant, according to a March 13 announcement from the Chicago-based food distributor.
To be built on the Hancock County side of a town that, in the 2000 Census, boasted a population of 5,500, a median age of 34.4 and median income of $57,875, the plant will provide additional capacity for Peer’s fully cooked gourmet sausage and hot dog production lines.
The company estimates it will spend $5.5 million to purchase and equip the 33,000 square-foot facility, expected to create up to 80 new jobs by 2014. Steve Yagelski, Cumberland’s director of utilities, said the town is solidly behind the new facility.
“We continue improving the community as much as we can,” he said. “A new processing plant is a definite plus.” Other local employers include Meijer, Harlan Sprague, Schrieber Lumber, Masco, Hutchison Signs, Tucker, Town of Cumberland and the U.S. Post Office.
Harold Dangler, Peer’s marketing director, said the new plant could impact Indiana hog producers who sell to slaughterhouses that are Peer suppliers. “We don’t buy animals directly from farmers,” he said. “We purchase carcasses from slaughterhouses and will process the meat in Cumberland.”
Gov. Mike Pence greeted the news Peer will locate a new plant in Indiana with enthusiasm. “We are seeing time and again companies are choosing to grow in the Hoosier state, thanks to our low cost of doing business and talented workforce,” he said.
“We are proud that Peer Foods selected Indiana for its new investment, and we will continue to work hard to create an environment that allows its business to thrive.”
Peer Foods already has more than 240 full-time employees in two Indiana locations – a distribution center in Indianapolis and a production facility in Columbus. It has begun hiring additional manufacturing, production, packaging and support associates in Cumberland, which is located 10 miles east of downtown Indianapolis on Historic National Road (U.S. Highway 40) between Interstates 70 and 74. It affords easy access to I-465.
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Peer Foods up to $400,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives.
Hancock County approved additional property tax abatement at the request of the Hancock County Economic Development Council.
“We are pleased and excited to have Peer Foods as a member of our community,” said Joe Siefker, vice president of the Cumberland Town Council and a member of the county Economic Development Council.
“The jobs they will provide and the revenue they will generate for the local community and the utilities is the culmination of the work we on the Cumberland Town Council and the Hancock Economic Development Council do, to make Hancock County a great place to live and work.”
Larry O’Connell, president of Peer Foods, is appreciative of those efforts and of the business climate in Indiana. “We look forward to the continued success here as we continue to grow and provide the best products for our customers,” he said.
Peer Foods was founded in Chicago in 1867, two years after the city’s Union Stockyards opened. It purchased Mariah Foods, Inc. in 1996 and in January of this year acquired Indiana’s Emge Foods.