West Liberty Foods, a leading protein processor, announced it will open a food processing center in Kansas City, attached to supporting cold storage facility to be developed by Vertical Cold Storage. The companies are expected to invest a combined $199.6 million and create 583 jobs.
“Missouri is home to nearly 400 food companies, and we are excited to welcome West Liberty Foods and Vertical Cold Storage to our state’s robust food and agricultural network,” said Governor Mike Parson. “When a company selects Missouri for a new facility, we understand it’s a major decision, and we are committed to their success in our state. We are looking forward to watching these two companies grow right here in Missouri.”
West Liberty Foods ranks among the continent’s top 50 protein processors, producing nearly 650 million pounds of food product each year for grocery stores and restaurants across the country. The company’s food processing center and cold storage facility will be directly connected and support the production of grab-and-go sandwiches. The facility will be located at the I-49 Logistics Center, a 1340-acre development in southwest Kansas City developed in partnership with Port KC.
“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to expand our signature protein offerings with our new premade grab-and-go sandwich program,” said Brandon Achen, CEO of West Liberty Foods. “Based on its proximity to key stakeholders for the project, Kansas City is the ideal location to house our newest technology, and we look forward to the growth this area has to offer.”
West Liberty Foods is headquartered in Iowa with additional production facilities in Utah and Illinois. The new 327,000-square-foot Kansas City facility represents the company’s first expansion into Missouri. The accompanying cold storage space operated by Vertical Cold Storage, which provides comprehensive cold storage services for frozen and refrigerated foods, will be the company’s sixth location nationwide.
The Kansas City region, where 85 percent of the U.S. population can be reached in two days or less, has experienced rapid growth as a food and beverage logistics hub for the U.S. in the last several years. Kansas City’s prime accessibility has contributed to the continued attraction of companies to the market’s $125.4 billion food and beverage industry, which is ranked eighth among the top 50 food manufacturing markets in the U.S. for three-year job growth. In the last two years, the Kansas City region has attracted food and beverage companies pledging to create more than 1,800 jobs, invest more than $486 million, and occupy nearly 4.2 million square feet.
“We’re excited for the positive impact this significant investment will have on the Kansas City region,” said Maggie Kost, Acting Director of the Department of Economic Development. “West Liberty Foods and Vertical Cold Storage are the latest of a growing number of food companies that recognize Missouri as an ideal business location. We appreciate our partners who helped secure this project and create more opportunities for Missourians and their families.”
For this expansion, West Liberty Foods will benefit from the Missouri Works program, a tool that helps companies expand and retain workers by providing access to capital through withholdings or tax credits for job creation. The company is also receiving assistance from Missouri One Start, a division of the Department of Economic Development. Missouri One Start assists eligible businesses with their recruitment and training needs.
“Food production is one of the most active sectors in Missouri, and our strengths in food and agriculture are a huge advantage for growing companies like West Liberty Foods and Vertical Cold Storage,” said Subash Alias, CEO of Missouri Partnership. “These two businesses are industry leaders, and our state has the workforce, infrastructure and business innovation to support them as they continue to grow their successful companies.”
“More than 675 industrial food and beverage companies call the KC region home, thanks to our proximity to key agriculture markets, advanced logistics infrastructure and strong industry-specific talent pipeline,” said Chris Gutierrez, President of KC SmartPort, an affiliate of the Kansas City Area Development Council. “With nearly 27,000 people employed in the food and beverage industry and a robust network of industrial assets, Kansas City can support leading companies like West Liberty Foods and Vertical Cold Storage with the resources they need to thrive.”