Strong demand for peanut butter and a $6 million tax break persuaded J.M. Smucker of Ohio to reverse its decision to close its Memphis plant.
Gov. Bill Haslam and Bill Hagerty, the state's Economic and Community Development Commissioner, said Tuesday that Smucker plans to convert its existing Memphis production facility to a peanut butter manufacturing plant, resulting in the investment of $55.6 million by the company.
The Orrville, Ohio-based company said it will invest $55 million in new equipment at the plant and add 65 jobs. Smucker expects to have a workforce of 125 employees in the Bluff City upon completion of the project in 2014.
"I want to thank Smucker for this investment in the Memphis community," Gov. Haslam said. "With our Jobs4TN strategy, we have placed special emphasis on helping existing Tennessee businesses in their efforts to grow, and this announcement is another step toward our goal of becoming No. 1 in the Southeast for high quality jobs."
Smucker reversed its previous move that it would cease all operations of its existing fruit spreads manufacturing facility. The new operation, also located at 4740 Burbank Road, will be fitted with new equipment to produce peanut butter and include a rail spur and customized manufacturing lines.
"The J.M. Smucker Company has played a key role in the corporate landscape of Memphis since 1969, and we are happy to hear the company will refit its existing facility to meet its evolving needs in an ever-changing world economy," Hagerty said. "As a renowned transportation and logistics hub, Memphis offers global companies like Smucker the ability to manufacture and distribute its products efficiently and effectively. We are pleased to know that Tennessee and its workforce will continue to play an important role in the company's future plans and successes."
Smucker is a leading marketer and manufacturer of fruit spreads, retail packaged coffee, peanut butter, shortening and oils, ice cream toppings, sweetened condensed milk, and health and natural foods beverages in North America.
"For more than a year the City, County, State and EDGE have been working with Smucker to find an alternative to closing the plant," Memphis Mayor A C Wharton said. "We appreciate the company's confidence in Memphis and the jobs, income and tax revenues that will now flow as a result of our collective effort."
"Having a Fortune 500 firm with the reputation of Smucker recommit to our community is testimony not only to our strengths in manufacturing and distribution, but also to our tenacity in the face of adversity," added Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell. "We appreciate the company's willingness to work with us to find a new life for its Memphis plant."