Amy’s Kitchen is bringing 200 jobs to Pocatello, taking over the Heinz plant that closed last summer and idled 400 workers. A specialty frozen food processor, Amy’s Kitchen expects to begin operations before year’s end and employ up to 1,000 people within several years.
Company officials were attracted to the Pocatello plant by an available workforce with food processing skills and access to crops which represent key ingredients in their product lines. Incentives from state and county government also played an important role in recruiting the company.
Based in Petaluma, California, Amy’s Kitchen produces 88 frozen meals from pizzas and pocket sandwiches to pot pies. It does not use chemical preservatives.
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For decades food manufacturing has been a critical source of employment and economic vitality in southeastern Idaho. Multiple generations have worked in this industry. However, recent trends show a clear decline in employment levels.
Historically, food manufacturing has been an economically resilient industry. “People always have to eat regardless of the economy” was the view, and southeastern Idaho has some of the best potatoes in the world. Many food manufacturers took advantage of the crop by locating large processing plants in the region.
Despite signs of an economic recovery nationally, the last several months regionally have seen some food manufacturing plants close and others lay off workers. The local economic impact will likely be severe. Continue reading →