Crews move dirt at the site of the Southwest Cheese Plant Jan. 30 south of Clovis, located near the intersection of Curry County Roads 4 and K. Groundbreaking is at 2:30 p.m. today. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.
By Jack King
Gov. Bill Richardson, city and county officials and company officers will attend a groundbreaking ceremony at 2:30 p.m. today at the site of the Southwest Cheese Plant at 1141 County Road 4.
The Clovis High School drum line also will be present to play for those attending the ceremony.
Chamber of Commerce executive director Ernie Kos said the groundbreaking is open to the public.
“We encourage everyone in the community who can make it to come,” Kos said.
Richardson, Mayor David Lansford, Southwest Cheese Co. chairman of the board Mike McCloskey and Southwest Cheese Co. chief executive officer Maurice Keane will speak at the ceremony, as well as at a press conference scheduled for noon today.
Chase Gentry, executive director of the Clovis Industrial Development Corporation, said starting construction of the $190 million cheese plant is a milestone in the history of Clovis and New Mexico.
“It’s a huge win for all,” he said.
Southwest Cheese Co. is a joint venture of Glanbia International, an Ireland-based cheese- and whey-processing company, Dairy Farmers of America Inc., Select Milk Producers Inc. and other dairy cooperative members of the Greater Southwest Agency Inc.
Contracts have been awarded to Dahlgren/Skanska and Carlisle Process Systems to begin construction on the $190 million facility, and production is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2005, according to a CIDC press release.
In full operation, sales are expected to be $350 million per year, with employment for 220 people.
One of the largest plants of its kind in the world, the facility will process more than 2.4 billion pounds of milk and produce, 250 million pounds of cheese and 16.5 million pounds of value-added whey proteins, the release states.