Cheese continues to be number one in Plymouth

THERE IS SOME ECONOMIC wisdom that says a community should not rely too heavily on any one particular industry or business for its economic well-being. Call it the economic version of don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

For instance, Detroit flourished in the heyday of the American automotive industry, when American cars held sway around the world, more than half a century ago. But as the rest of the world caught with – and in some cases, passed – the domestic auto industry, Detroit suffered, shriveled and shrank. But as with anything else, there’s usually an exception to every rule in economics, and Plymouth continues to stand as one of those.

In our case, it’s not metal and muscle but cheese that’s proven to be the major component of the local economy.

What made Plymouth the Cheese Capitol of the World continues to provide major economic capital.

Cheese companies like Sargento, Sartori, Masters Gallery, Dairy Farmers of America and Great Lakes Cheese continue to run strong. Indeed, Sargento recently announced an expansion of its Kiel production facility that will add 180 jobs there. That’s on top of the ongoing expansion of their Elkhart Lake technical center.

Those jobs aren’t in Plymouth per se, but many of them may be filled by local residents and they reinforce the strength of the company and all their facilities, including the headquarters campus here in Plymouth.

In addition to the big five cheese companies, there are a number of smaller cheese companies and cheesemakers throughout the western half of the county that contribute to our economic strength.

And one of the truths is that, with all that cheese around, there has to be someplace to store it while it ages to perfection, when it can be processed and packaged for consumers.

In Plymouth, there’s more than one place where that happens – and there will soon be more, with the help of the city.

The City Council last month approved more than $12 million in industrial revenues bonds for new cheese storage facilities in the County PP/Willow Road industrial park. That includes $10 million to help OCS Plymouth build a 220,000-square foot cold storage facility on County PP and $2.25 million to help Plymouth Cold Storage build a 27,000-square foot cold storage facility on Blanke Court.

The IRBs are money borrowed and paid back not by the city but by the companies themselves. There is no obligation and no cost to the city and its taxpayers.

Instead, by lending its name to the bonds, the IRBs enable the companies to obtain a lower interest rate, increasing the chances of success for both projects.

It’s a perfect mechanism to keep the cheese business flourishing and growing in Plymouth, to everyone’s benefit.

And tell those economists that we’re glad to keep all our cheese in one basket – unlike eggs, cheese won’t break.

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