Saturday January 5, 2013
Word on Birdseye Plant Successor Can Come at Any TimeChicken processor expected to set up shop at vacant Fulton plant
By Lou Sorendo
One of the most significant business stories of 2013 could be announced at any time.
The former Birds Eye plant in Fulton is lined up for sale and is expected to become a chicken processing facility.
L. Michael Treadwell, executive director of Operation Oswego County, referred to the potential buyers of the former Birds Eye plant as the “mystery company.” The unknown company specializes in chicken-related food processing.
“The company has been so close to the vest in terms of who they are for competitive reasons,” he said.
“We are about as close as we can get to the finish line with crossing the finish line,” he added.
Treadwell said the closing on acquiring the property was scheduled before the end of 2012.
“But again, anytime something is scheduled, until you put it in the past tense, it’s not a done deal,” Treadwell said.
He said the project is expected to create about 180 jobs.
“It’s not a slaughterhouse. They don’t kill any chickens there. They buy chicken, cook it and add value to it,” he said.
Treadwell said the “mystery” company set up a real estate holding company to purchase the building.
“I don’t think initially they will make a whole lot of fanfare out of it until they get everything lined up and start to bring in equipment,” he said.
Treadwell said if the deal closes, it will probably take the company six to eight months to get the plant in shape for production.
“I would not be looking at a significant number of hires for that project until probably late spring or early summer of 2014,” he said.
Treadwell said banks have been working on financing for the sale of the 20 acres and 281,000-square-foot building at 607 Phillips St. He said other technical aspects of the sale with current owner Pinnacle Foods of New Jersey also are being ironed out.
The former vegetable food processing operation had been in Fulton since 1902 under a number of owners, including Kraft General Foods, Dean Foods, Agrilink and Birds Eye.
Pinnacle Foods purchased the plant in late 2010. A year later, Pinnacle announced it would close the Fulton site, putting about 280 people out of work.
The closing of the Birds Eye plant was the third major factory closing in the Fulton area since Miller Brewing Co. closed its doors in September 1994.
In 2003, Nestle Co., the oldest chocolate factory in the United States, closed and more than 400 people lost their jobs.
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