Blue Diamond Growers, a cooperative owned by more than half of California’s almond growers, officially launched Phase 1 of its new manufacturing plant in Turlock on Thursday, April 12th, at an onsite groundbreaking ceremony. The 88-acre property is located at N. Washington and Fulkerth Roads.
The first phase of the project is scheduled to be completed in May 2013. It will provide about 200,000 square feet of building space for manufacturing and delivering new almond products worldwide. The three-phased project will eventually yield a total of about 500,000 square feet of building space over the next 15 years.
“There’s no doubt that Blue Diamond will bring numerous benefits to the Turlock community, including jobs,” said Mark Jansen, Blue Diamond President and CEO. “The number of jobs will not be known until we have made our investment decisions about new technologies. We will announce job openings in Fall 2012.”
Blue Diamond made its last major investment in 1968 in its Salida Plant. At that time, California was producing 140 million pounds of almonds.
“Compare that to this year’s crop of about 2 billion pounds and you can better understand why we are making a major investment to expand our business,” explained Jansen.
“We have kept pace with upgrading new technologies in our plant operations over the last 44 years, but today we are celebrating the largest single investment in the 102 years of the almond industry’s existence. In fact, this year we will also complete a state of the art Research and Development complex at our headquarters in Sacramento.”
Jansen added, “In our continuing efforts to deliver the benefits of almonds to the world, this project will allow us to expand our value-added product lines. It will seal our promise to be THE global almond ingredients and consumer retail market leader so that we can continue to create the healthiest almond products in the world.”
Blue Diamond Chairman Clinton Shick of McFarland added, “This celebration is really a continuation of the incremental steps we’ve taken in past years and those we will take over the next 100 years to continue to be the world almond leader. I would like to thank our growers for entrusting their almonds to us to make this investment. It will reap the largest incremental returns to almond growers who seek a secure future in the almond business.”
Elected officials and dignitaries who participated in the groundbreaking ceremony included; Congressman Jeff Denham, Undersecretary of Agriculture Sandra Schubert, William O’Brien from the Stanislaus Board of Supervisors, Turlock Mayor John Lazar, and Turlock City Manager Roy Wasden.
Mayor John Lazar explained the importance of Blue Diamond Growers coming to Turlock, and considered the move as an economic development opportunity.
“The current and former Councils have worked hard to prepare Turlock to be in a position to compete for major economic development opportunities,” stated Lazar. “The Turlock Regional Industrial Park is a result of those efforts. In addition to having the infrastructure in place for economic growth a City must have outstanding customer service. I am proud to say that we have met both of these requirements in the City of Turlock and we are thankful to be able to partner with a world-class corporation like Blue Diamond Growers.”
Mayor Lazar believes that Blue Diamond coming to Turlock is a “game changer” and an answered prayer.
“This opportunity is truly a game changer that I have prayed for our community,” said Lazar. “It is wonderful to welcome Blue Diamond Growers to Turlock and we look forward to growing and prospering together.”
City Manager Roy Wasden is thankful for the vision of the current and former Councils in preparing the Turlock Regional Industrial Park so that Turlock can compete for opportunities to partner with great corporations like Blue Diamond Growers.
“It has been wonderful working with Blue Diamond on this project, they are a tremendous asset to our community and to our county and we will do all in our power to help them to grow and succeed as their success is directly related to the success of our community,” stated Wasden.
Turlock has invested $15 million in what was known as the Westside Industrial Specific Plan, and was officially renamed Turlock Regional Industrial Park for better marketing purposes at a City Council meeting in 2011.
The Turlock location for Blue Diamond Growers will serve as the major expansion location required to meet the company’s increasing global market opportunities and crop supply. Insufficient land was available in Sacramento and Salida to add the required manufacturing capacity to either existing location. The three-phased project is expected to provide training and other new opportunities for current employees in Sacramento, Salida and Turlock.