Unilever is adding 70 jobs and investing $99 million at its Independence food manufacturing plant.
About 190 employees currently work at the plant, which for years has made Wishbone salad dressing. The jobs are above average wage. the kind Independence Economic Development Council President Tom Lesnak says the city tries to attract. But those jobs have been in jeopardy for a couple of months now.
“The Wishbone salad dressing brand sold at the end of last year," says Lesnak. "They’re still producing it, but long-term, our concern was keeping the jobs in our community that had been built up over the years.”
Lesnak says the council worked with Unilever to create an incentive package that was good for both the business and the city. That includes up to $6.2 million in tax credits from the state and an abatement on new equipment to modernize the plant.
"It really secures the company here in Independence for at least the next 25 years," he says. "So we know those jobs – not just the new ones but the ones that were retained – will be here for some time to come."
The salad dressing plant will begin manufacturing dry soup and sauce mixes in early 2016. Unilever is also expanding its operations in Gardner, Kan.