2007-07-28 / News

$16 million expansion for Harry & David in Hebron

By Scott Rawdon

CEO Bill Williams, left, and Hebron Mayor Clifford L. Mason break ground Tuesday. Beacon photo by Scott Rawdon. CEO Bill Williams, left, and Hebron Mayor Clifford L. Mason break ground Tuesday. Beacon photo by Scott Rawdon. HEBRON- Fans of Moose Munch rejoice! Tuesday morning Harry & David Holdings, Inc. CEO Bill Williams announced a ground breaking on a new $16 million expansion to its Hebron facility, where it will increase candy, chocolate, and packaging operations.

"This expansion is in response to sales growth of these products in all channels. This addition will allow us to reduce transportation costs while at the same time increasing our production to meet customer demand," said Williams in a statement, adding that Harry & David will be able to produce an additional 4 million pounds of Moose Munch confection and 3 million pounds of chocolate enrobed fruit annually. "Our Ohio distribution center is a key activity hub for us; last year we shipped more than 3.6 million gifts, which is one million more than we sent from our Medford, Oregon distribution center," he said in the statement.

The Hebron facility expansion is expected to add approximately 160 new full-time jobs with an annual payroll of approximately $4 million; construction should be complete by autumn 2008. Ten years ago, Harry & David opened the existing Hebron facility.

"This was not an easy process," said Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason, who earlier in the day presented Williams with a village document proclaiming July 24 as "Harry & David Day" in Hebron. From the village's point of view, Mason said it took about four months of negotiations to secure the Harry & David expansion in Hebron. "I'm glad to have them here," he said.

Williams said construction should begin in September or October.

"More jobs, more industry-- this is good," said Hebron Village Administrator Mike McFarland. He said economic developers on all levels, such as the village and Licking County, worked together to secure the expansion in Hebron. "It shows a significantcommitment to this area" on the company's part, he said. It shows that Harry & David has faith in the local workforce and the community's economic development, said McFarland.

The village administrator added that the expansion will receive a 100 percent real property community reinvestment area tax abatement for 12 years. However, the Lakewood School District still receives half of the village's one percent income tax generated by the expansion's $4 milllion payroll, which translates to an additional $20,000 annually for the 12 year abatement period.

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