Great Lakes Cheese breaks ground on $184.5M cheese processing, distribution plant in Abilene

E-T staff report
Great Lakes Cheese recently announced plans to expand its packaging operations and build a new, state-of-the-art facility in Abilene. The plant expansion will include an additional 286,500 square feet of packaging and warehouse space.

Great Lakes Cheese and the Development Corporation of Abilene celebrate the official groundbreaking of a 286,500 square foot state-of-the-art cheese packaging and distribution plant that is expected to employ 500 people in Abilene.

State and local officials were in attendance to break ground and officially welcome Ohio-based Great Lakes Cheese to their newest home. State Representative Stan Lambert and Adriana Cruz, Executive Director of Economic Development and Tourism for the Office of Governor Greg Abbott, were there to celebrate and signify that Texas is open for business.

“Congratulations to Great Lakes Cheese, the City of Abilene, and DCOA on this tremendous economic achievement,” said Governor Abbott. “The groundbreaking of this new facility is a testament to Texas’ welcoming business climate and unmatched economic opportunity. I’m excited to welcome Great Lakes Cheese to the state of Texas and proud that they have chosen to invest in Abilene.”

Family- and employee-owned, Great Lakes Cheese celebrated its 60th year of business in 2018. GLC’s longstanding record of investing in thriving communities is tied directly to the company operating under an ownership culture. Through their Employee Stock Ownership Plan, all employees have a stake in the business and share in the rewards.

“Great Lakes Cheese is exactly the kind of company the DCOA and DevelopAbilene partners work to bring to our city,” said Misty Mayo, President and Chief Executive Officer of the DCOA. “This is a great cultural fit and the type of project that will ensure the viability of this community for years to come. Together we are building the Abilene of the future.”

Last month, the DCOA Board of Directors and Abilene City Council approved a $33.3 million incentive package funded by the DCOA. In addition to the funding provided by the DCOA, the project received both a Veteran’s Fund and a Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) grant from the office of Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

“What a tremendous opportunity for Abilene,” said Jack Rich, Chairman of the DCOA Board. “For every dollar the DCOA has invested in GLC, the company will invest $12 back into the community through initial capital investment, property taxes, school taxes, sales taxes and wages over the next 10 years.”

The company has a national footprint with facilities in Ohio, New York, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin – with over 2 million square feet of production space and over 100 production lines. As the country’s largest natural cheese packager, GLC serves grocery, club, and super stores, restaurant chains, and foodservice distributors.

“The project is estimated to generate $1.3 billion in total projected economic impact over the next 10 years,” said Mayor Anthony Williams. “Attracting Great Lakes Cheese is a critical step in ensuring the vision of our community.”

Great Lakes Cheese is an award-winning manufacturer and packager of natural and processed bulk, shredded, and sliced cheeses. Abilene’s strategic location in south central United States with access to major highways is a key factor in the location of GLC’s new facility, allows them to continue their legacy of high quality and service to their customer base. GLC’s commitment to quality and service has led them to win over 180 awards in the last 25 years.

“This groundbreaking marks the beginning of our generational commitment to Abilene,” Chief Executive Officer Dan Zagzebski said. “Great Lakes Cheese’s expansion into Texas represents our dedication to provide exceptional service to our customers. We look forward to investing in this great community and our Abilene employee- owners.”

As the economic driver of Abilene, the Development Corporation of Abilene (DCOA) is committed to recruiting and retaining companies for Abilene. The DCOA provides incentives and assistance to Abilene businesses to build and strengthen the local economy – ensuring the viability of the community for years to come. Learn more about the DCOA online at: www.abilenedcoa.com.