Future even brighter for old Borden’s plant T

HERE WAS A REAL concern two years ago when Dairy Farmers of

America announced it would be closing its plant on South Street in Plymouth that the city would have a 401,600 square foot white elephant on its hands – or at least near its southern boundary.

The sudden closing left more than 300 workers unemployed but, fortunately, most if not all of those have been reabsorbed back into the workforce, either locally or elsewhere.

It also left the last working cheese plant in the historic Cheeseville district – the area along the railroad tracks on what was then the south edge of the city – which had been producing Borden cheese and other products since it was built in 1954 empty and idle.

That could have been a long-term concern for the city, as such a specialized production facility had the potential to sit vacant for a long time.

Again fortunately, Cedar Grove Warehousing stepped up to purchase the facility and use it as a cold storage facility for aging cheese – a growing adjunct industry to Plymouth’s world-famous cheese industry.

While it doesn’t provide anywhere near the employment numbers that the facility did when it was a working cheese plant, it did guarantee that the building wouldn’t remain vacant and ultimately fall into a state of decay and disrepair, becoming a blight on one of the city’s doorsteps.

Now comes news that, in addition to being a cheese storage facility for Cedar Grove Warehousing, the former Borden plant will be the location for a new business venture – Safety Fresh Foods LLC – which has tremendous potential impact for Plymouth and the area’s vital food industry.

Safety Fresh will utilize part of the facility to set up a $3.3 million high pressure pasteurization (HPP) processing facility. It is part of the familyowned Maglio Companies of Milwaukee, which is in its third generation of family ownership and operation – a nice match to Plymouth’s many family-owned and operated businesses of all kinds that are also in their second or third generation or beyond.

HPP food processing utilizes high pressure rather than heat to disrupt cellular activity and destroy germs and bacteria in packaged refrigerated food products – which many area companies make.

Using pressurization instead of heat, in specially designed equipment, kills more germs and bacteria than traditional heat processing with little or no change in product taste, texture or nutritional value.

HPP food processing has already proven invaluable in many food industries, such as fresh juices, by providing longer and safer shelf life. The potential for many of the products produced in the Sheboygan County area seems limitless – from sausages to cheese to vegetables and much, much more. That includes products that are not now manufactured locally but could well be in the future – with the potential benefit to the local economy.

Safety Fresh already has commitments from some local producers like Johnsonville Foods and high interest from many others. That would seem to ensure a strong and healthy future here for the new firm – which has room for growth in the Cedar Grove Warehousing facility.

It means that Plymouth – already the Cheese Capital of the World – and Sheboygan County, which already provide plenty of good, wholesome, nutritious food for consumers, could be making and selling much more in the future. That’s certainly a good outcome for a building that just recently seemed destined to have no future.

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