After nearly three years of stalled activity, a Connecticut-based food safety technology firm is ramping up its expansion plans in greater Wilmington.
Jim Burns, CEO and chairman of CMS Food Solutions Inc., said Wednesday his firm is set to begin purchasing equipment and boosting production at its future Leland plant in the coming months. He added CMS officials also have plans to establish a research and development division at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s MARBIONC facility.
Burns said no timeline for construction has been set, adding that his firm is working with a local bank to help them secure capital for its pending expansion.
CMS Food Solutions is a privately held corporation that does research and development, marketing and manufacturing of biotechnologies targeting pathogens and spoilage bacteria to preserve harvested fruits, vegetables and other foods.
The firm currently has a manufacturing facility in Conroe, Texas, near Houston, and another operation in Japan.
In November 2011, the firm announced plans to expand its manufacturing operation in Leland, investing a minimum of $4.4 million in its new venture and creating at least 52 jobs at an average wage of $43,115 a year, according to a news release at the time. Officials also closed on a 48,000-square-foot, vacant warehouse at 2080 Enterprise Drive in Leland that would house the operation.
Kim Genardo, spokeswoman for the N.C. Department of Commerce, said CMS Food Technology received a $32,000 One N.C. Fund grant – a program that provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state – on Nov. 2, 2011.
But after state commerce officials did not receive the necessary documentation from the firm to claim the grant, Genardo said state officials rescinded the grant offer effective April 9, 2013.
The firm is eligible to reapply for the grant, Genardo said.
Jim Bradshaw, Brunswick County Economic Development Commission executive director, said despite losing the One N.C. Fund grant, the firm is still eligible to receive workforce training assistance from Brunswick County Community College.
“That applies to all new and existing industry expanding in the area,” Bradshaw said of workforce training.
Burns said the firm has been working furiously to get its Leland and Wilmington ventures prepared for production.
The firm recently secured a number of contracts – from two Georgia-based poultry firms, three plastic companies and five firms that specialize in produce – in which CMS Food Solutions will produce specific preservative technology for their respective products, Burns said.
He said the firm is waiting on the final prototype version to move forward with the equipment buys necessary to manufacture the products at its Leland facility.
Bradshaw said county commerce officials are excited the firm is quickly moving forward with its plans for the region.
“We’re been working with them for the past three years,” Bradshaw said. “These are 52 jobs that families will have an opportunity to apply for, and we’re looking forward to their opening.”
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