Archive for Monday, November 21, 2011

Officials laud new Berry Plastics facility as economic boon

November 21, 2011


Motorists near the Lecompton interchange on the Kansas Turnpike can now see signs of work on one of the larger buildings ever constructed in Douglas County.

Construction crews are busy pouring concrete for an approximately 600,000-square-foot warehouse and printing facility for Berry Plastics.

“Everything is on schedule, and the weather is cooperating. So, we’re very excited,” said Steve Cooper, plant manager for Berry’s manufacturing plant in the Santa Fe Industrial Park.

Berry’s new facility will be about 1.5 miles west of the Lecompton interchange on Interstate 70 and just north of County Route 438.

Cooper said the building is on track to be completed in summer 2012.

“We plan to keep working right on through the winter, as long as the weather lets us,” Cooper said.

The approximately $20 million project does have a local general contractor. Lawrence-based Gene Fritzel Construction company is overseeing the construction. Beth Johnson, vice president of economic development for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce, said the project is expected to provide a significant boost to area construction firms that will be hired as subcontractors on the job.

Previously, company officials have estimated that the project will create about 350 construction jobs.

In the short term, the warehouse and printing facility is expected to produce about a dozen new jobs for Berry Plastics. But city and county officials are hopeful that the project will produce several hundred new jobs in the next few years. That’s because the project will involve moving Berry’s printing operations out of its manufacturing plant at 2330 Packer Road.

“That will open up a huge space in their main plant, where I think they expect to be asked to expand their line and add significant jobs in the future,” said Douglas County Commissioner Nancy Thellman.

The county is providing multiple incentives for the project, including a tax abatement and road construction that will improve the county road near the entrance to the warehouse.

Douglas County Public Works Director Keith Browning said work will begin in the spring to add a right-turn lane for westbound traffic on County Route 438 and center left-turn lane for eastbound traffic. The project is expected to cost about $335,000, but the county has secured a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation that will pay about 85 percent of the costs.

Berry Plastics makes plastic drink cups and other housewares items. The company has seen a boost in business as it has developed a new plastic drink cup line that is lighter to ship and more environmentally friendly to produce.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

"Berry Plastics makes plastic drink cups and other housewares items."

Maybe Berry can get Toby Keith to do a song and video praising their plastic cups.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

Me too. I'm not really a fan, but this was very well done.

Steve Jacob 6 years, 3 months ago

I think it's great getting this new factory. We need the manufacturing jobs. The only bad thing is with it's location, when the plant is operational, I bet they have more people living outside Douglas County working at the plant then in.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

It's mostly just a warehouse, and will only have about a dozen employees.

thefactsare 6 years, 3 months ago

UNIKU, how do you see the Chamber taking credit by a statement talking about an increase in work for local contractors? And what is your statement that the Chamber is worthless based on? Do you have facts to support that?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 3 months ago

Doesn't seem like the belief in a silly superstition ought to be a firing offense.

But if it's a right-to-work (i.e., right to fire for no particular reason) state, the guy really has no legitimate complaint, does he?

somebodynew 6 years, 3 months ago

"Economic Boon" ??? a couple of hundred construction jobs which will go away as soon as the place is built. Take notice they say a local General Contractor - that does not equal hiring local workers who do the work. Also, Fritzell is part of the group that owns the land this is being built on - think maybe that help them be the General Contractor ???

After the constuction crews move on it is about 12 new jobs. Granted there is the possibility of the manufactuing place expanding, but that is all it is - a possibility. I am no economist, but I don't think many places are looking to expand right now.

Will this move make Berry Plastics a whole lot of money, you bet in saving from what they are doing now. Is it all this headline makes out - well, for them; I am not holding my breath for the great "boon" for Douglas County.

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