BELOIT, Wis. - Kettle Foods held a grand opening for its manufacturing facility in Beloit Wednesday.
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Gov. Jim Doyle was on hand to cut the ribbon at the new 73,000-square-foot facility, which created nearly 100 jobs in Beloit. The manufacturing plant will produce 2.5 million bags of all-natural potato chips, which are sold across the country.
Beloit city officials said that Kettle Foods is the latest in the city's attempt to grow its economy.
"An important part of what we're doing here with economic development is job creation, and creating a good, solid, diversified economic base for this city that will have sustainable jobs and produce sustainable economic growth for this community," said Larry Arft, city manager for the city of Beloit.
Kettle Foods has been in business since 1978 and operates a second production facility in Salem, Ore.
In 2006, Doyle provided Kettle Foods with $500,000 in state money to lure the construction project.
In addition to new jobs, Kettle Foods brings new standards for environmentally friendly manufacturing. Kettle Foods' new facility in Beloit is the first manufacturing plant to be awarded gold certification in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Program from the U.S. Green Building Council.
"We think it's a big deal. We think we've done the right thing to build as sustainably as possible," said Jim Green, ambassador for Kettle Foods.
The facility uses 18 small wind turbines located on the roof of the building. Combined, and at full capacity, the turbines can create 18 kilowatts of electricity, which is enough power to make 56,000 bags of chips each year, WISC-TV reported.
"We took a look at how the building is oriented towards the wind, and then used the building envelope. It actually will accelerate the wind," said Jeff Wright, global sales director of Aerovironments Energy Initiatives,
The building is also designed with recycled materials, high-efficiency lights, a heat recovery system and large windows to use as much natural light as possible.
"It has been proven that employees are happier and more productive in a sustainable building. And if you have happy and more productive employees, obviously that will offset any additional costs and improve your bottom line," said Connie Lindholm, executive director of the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance.
Kettle Foods said that there were additional costs when designing to meet the certification standards, but officials said they hope the facility's efficiency will recover those costs quickly while helping to preserve the environment.
"I think that this really serves as a model, not just for Wisconsin, but for the whole country," Lindholm said.
Businesses turning to green technology has been a popular trend in office buildings in recent years, but it has been more difficult for manufacturers to make the shift because of their power needs, WISC-TV reported.
Kettle Foods said that since the facility is just starting to run at full capacity and the technology is so new, it hasn't been able to track the cost of operating the plant. But officials said that if everything works as they hope, the multimillion dollar facility could have a big impact.
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