By Jennifer Kotila
COKATO, MN In today’s economy, when most businesses are downsizing, laying people off, and concerned about the bottom line, it is a rarity to find a business that is expanding.
Faribault Foods in Cokato has been doing well since the downturn in the economy. So well, in fact, that they have been busy planning for an expansion.
“Being in the food industry, we have not been nearly as affected by the economy as other business segments,” said Jim Nelson, executive vice president of innovation and technology at Faribault Foods.
At a special meeting of Cokato City Council Sept. 8, the city approved the plans for Faribault Foods to move forward with its 2800- to 3000- square-foot expansion of its corporate research and development center (R&D).
The expansion has been planned for over a year. “Part of the expansion is to house four current employees that are working in temporary offices (a trailer). We are also looking to add additional food scientists to support the company’s growth plans,” said Nelson.
Faribault Foods has already started the expansion and plan to be done by the end of December.
Faribault Foods is acting as the general contractor for the expansion and utilizing a number of local contractors and suppliers for the work, according to Nelson. The cost of the expansion is about $300,000.
Faribault Foods was founded in 1895. It purchased the Cokato plant in 1968, which was previously Northland Canning, established in 1925.
The R&D center has supported the entire Faribault Foods organization from the Cokato location for the last 10 years. This includes the facilities in Cokato, Faribault, and Elk River.
All product development takes place at the R&D center, including, supporting new products for branded, private label and co-manufacturing customers, as well as innovative activities for new products and packaging.