Amy's Kitchen repurposes production facility
Attracting Amy's Kitchen to Pocatello was a classic case of right place, right time.
In 2014, H. J. Heinz Co. announced it was closing its Pocatello frozen foods plant, eliminating all 400 jobs. But almost immediately afterward, California-based Amy's Kitchen purchased the vacated building, because the company was in dire need of another manufacturing plant to produce its popular line of natural and vegetarian products.
As a result, Amy's hired 200 full-time employees at salaries of more than $33,000 a year and began its Pocatello operation in December 2014. The company plans to have a workforce of 1,000 people by 2030, with an economic impact to the state of Idaho at that point of $340 million in annual wages and state tax revenues of $35.7 million.
Amy’s is also in the midst of a $70 million upgrade to the 500,000-square-foot plant.
“Our company has experienced double-digit growth in the past year, and the move to Pocatello is the perfect complement to our long-term growth efforts,” says Andy Berliner, CEO and co-founder of Amy's Kitchen.
The company, founded in 1988 to create frozen meals for vegetarians, today sells 88 frozen meals that include pizzas, pocket sandwiches, pot pies, entrées, snacks and whole meals. The foods are carried by all-natural food stores, supermarkets and some club stores in the United States, Canada and abroad.
“Amy's prides itself on being like a home kitchen, only bigger,” Berliner says. “Other companies manufacture food. We cook it.”
Transportation and Other Assets
Amy’s officials say the main reason the company chose Pocatello was the availability of the vacated Heinz facility and the ability to purchase much of Heinz' existing equipment. But there are other reasons why Amy's chose Pocatello.
“A lot of manufacturing takes place in this region, and a big reason for our overall economic success is due to excellent transportation hubs,” says Matt Hunter, CEO and president of the Pocatello-Chubbuck Chamber of Commerce. “We have good railroads, good interstate highways and a quality Pocatello Regional Airport. Pocatello is a great place to distribute products, plus companies have access to top research and development at Idaho State University.”
Hunter points out that the region has experienced much success in recent times. A new Portneuf Medical Center has opened, a new Portneuf Wellness Complex outdoor amphitheater debuted in 2015, and major employers, such as Allstate Insurance and Idaho Central Credit Union, have expanded.
“Besides good transportation options, companies interested in Pocatello will find a lower cost of living, low utility rates, an educated workforce and plenty of commercial and industrial space,” Hunter says. “We are primed and ready to grow in several sectors, and companies should really consider Pocatello-Chubbuck when locating their business.”