McCain Foods USA, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of frozen potato products, is considering building a facility in Caldwell and bringing as many as 544 jobs to the area.
The company received approval Monday night for $400,000 in grants from the Caldwell Urban Renewal Agency.
McCain Foods is considering the 17-acre property in the Sky Ranch Industrial Park property at 4229 and 4224 Challenger Way to build a proposed 164,000-square-foot facility, four times the size of Caldwell’s Walmart Neighborhood Market.
The project, also known as “Project Russell,” is contingent upon the business’s final decision on a location, as the company is considering another property in Washington, Caldwell Economic Development Director Steve Fultz told the Idaho Press.
“It has been narrowed down to two sites, and the Caldwell site looks very promising,” Fultz said.
Because the business manufactures frozen potato, onion and cheese products — raw materials produced in the area — Fultz said the Caldwell location is very attractive.
If McCain Foods decides on the Sky Ranch site, the company would look to hire an anticipated 140 jobs during the first phase of construction, with nearly half of those jobs meeting the URA grant criteria of $25 an hour or more, plus benefits. By the end of the final phase, the project anticipates hiring 544 employees.
“That will be, from a Caldwell perspective, a major employer to this community … with a huge capital investment to our community, which helps our tax base,” Fultz said.
Fultz said the anticipated $134 million first-phase investment would be one of the top investments in Caldwell.
As a processing facility, the location would include food processing lines, each requiring about 60 employees, Fultz said.
At Monday’s special meeting, the urban renewal agency approved $200,000 in funding for the urban renewal Business Incentive Grant for job creation and an additional $200,000 in infrastructure grant funding.
McCain Foods requested $400,000 in grant funding. URA policy caps grant funding at $200,000, so the agency approved an additional $200,000 in infrastructure funding that would help build a larger gas line needed for construction of the facility.
URA would pay to build the gas line, which benefits both Project Russell and everyone along the roadway, Fultz said.
“We felt like a $400,000 benefit would be what it would take to really bring them (McCain Foods) in and make this an easier decision for them,” Fultz said.
The job creation grant awards $10,000 per qualified job, up to 20 jobs. URA approved McCain’s job creation application, meaning that if McCain Foods decides to build the facility and hire people, the urban renewal agency would need to pass a resolution allowing them to begin drawing from the additional $200,000.
“We don’t grant that just on the promise of creating jobs,” Fultz said. “They actually have to create the jobs and then provide us data showing that those jobs were created.”
Once the jobs and salaries are confirmed, the URA would cut a $25,000 check to McCain Foods every quarter for two years, Fultz said.
McCain Foods declined to comment on the company’s consideration of the Caldwell location.
If the company decides on the Caldwell location, the project would begin this September, Fultz said.
McCain is also expanding in Burley, Idaho. The company bought the former Ora-Ida Foods plant there 20 years ago. In May 2017, the McCain Burley processing plant announced a $200 million expansion, set to open late this summer, the Capital Press reported.