Officials beam over Flowers Foods announcement

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By Lydelle Abbott

The smell of fresh baked bread will soon fill the air as the first company to buy property at the new Nelson County Industrial Park was announced Friday.

Flowers Foods, Inc. a Georgia-based company that makes such well-known products as Bunny and Sunbeam breads, Nature’s Own, Mary Jane, Mrs. Freshley’s and Blue Bird has chosen Bardstown for the location of a new bakery.

Kim Huston, president of the Nelson County Economic Development Agency, announced the arrival of the new company saying that the addition “Makes us very excited, that we’ve now officially opened the new park.”

Flowers Foods has agreed to buy 30-acres near the back of the Industrial Park property for $450,000. The company will also have an option to purchase 24 additional acres for growth. Construction on the facility is expected to begin in December or early January, Huston said. The plan is to build a 200,000-square-foot bakery to produce fresh breads and buns for markets in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana, with a second production line added later, according to a press release from the company.

The company hopes to complete construction within nine months and have its first bakery line in operation by fall 2008, Huston said.

Flowers Foods expects to invest $52 million within two years of the project’s completion. The company plans to hire 145 full-time employees with an average annual salary of $39,000, a wage that is “a little higher,” than other local industries provide, Huston said.

Flowers Foods was also listed in Forbes Magazine as one of the best managed companies in America

“I am pleased to welcome Flowers Foods, an exciting and growing company, to the commonwealth,” Governor Ernie Fletcher said. “This project represents a significant investment in Nelson County and will add additional employment opportunities to the region. I am confident Flowers Foods will find that Bardstown offers the resources and skilled workforce to make this new venture a success.”

A preliminary approval of up to $2 million in tax benefits under the Kentucky Industrial Development Act was offered to Flowers Foods to help attract the company to the state.

Flowers Foods and Nelson County have already been vocal of the positive interactions they have had so far.

“Flowers Foods officials appeared to be a part of our community from the first visit, we are very appreciative of their investment in our community and will do everything possible to ensure much success,” Nelson County Judge Executive Dean Watts said in a press release from the governor’s office. He went on to say at the local announcement that “when they came to the community you felt like your relatives were coming to Thanksgiving dinner.”

“We appreciate the support we’ve received for this project from Nelson Fiscal Court, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority, the Nelson County Economic Development Agency, and the city of Bardstown,” said George E. Deese, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Flowers Foods, in a company press release.

Watts also noted at the announcement that Thomasville, Ga., where Flowers Foods is headquartered is similar in size to Bardstown making the move a natural fit.

Bardstown’s location was a strong component in building the factory in the area. “Bardstown is strategically located at the northern part of our current market territory for our fresh baked foods and this bakery will help serve new markets as we expand northward,” Deese said.

Flowers Foods Inc. currently operates 36 bakeries.

Bardstown Mayor Dick Heaton was unable to attend the announcement, but has been involved in the process to get the company into town over the past six months, Huston said. The city will provide integral service to the industrial park including water and sewer infrastructure.

“Flowers Foods is a very solid and established company that will provide diversity in our manufacturing sector and stable employment for many years to come,” Heaton said.

For more information on Flowers Foods Inc. visit its Web site at www.flowersfoods.com

Lydelle Abbott can be reached at 348-9003 Ext. 116 or by e-mail at labbott@kystandard.com