Cheese plant construction to start by New Year’s

Eric Butler

By Eric Butler
Freedom Newspapers
Engineering, architectural and construction firms have been lined up as work on a $200 million cheese processing plant north of Portales is expected to begin within the next three months.
And a name for the plant, which will provide around 200 permanent jobs when operational, has been selected. Officials hope that the Southwest Cheese Company will be processing cheese by the end of 2005.
The plant is a combined venture of Ireland-based Glanbia Foods, the Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Select Milk.
“I hope it to be under construction within 60-to-90 days, somewhere in that range,” said Wayne Palla, president of the DFA’s southwest area council.
Glanbia owns 50 percent of the plant and has selected Power Engineers of Idaho as the architectural firm and E.A. Bonelli & Associates of Oakland, Calif., to be the engineering company for the project.
Additionally, the Dahlgren Group, headquartered in Seattle, and the Minnesota-based Carlisle Group have been tabbed for the construction of the facility.
Southwest Cheese Company will be located on 3,000 acres north of Portales near the Roosevelt/Curry County line.
Construction employment opportunities could amount to as many as 700 jobs while the plant is being built, officials have said.
Other businesses are also expected to be attracted to the area as a result of the new plant.
“When you make cheese, you have whey — that’s one by-product. There’s also other by-products that have nutritional value that can also be used for other types of spin-off industries,” said Clovis Industrial Development Corporation executive director Chase Gentry.
“Right now, we’re working on strategies to locate companies that would fit into those categories.”