Unilever's Covington plant has been busy of late.
Four months ago the company announced a $109 million expansion that will double the facility's workforce by adding 430 jobs over the next three years.
Plans are now underway to lease land to U.S. Cold Storage, which will build a $49-million, 316,000-square-foot building that will serve as a freezer and distribution center for Uniliver's ice cream products.
The land, which also includes about 170,000 square feet for future expansion, is located just north of Unilever.
Over the last few months Covington and Tipton County approved PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) programs to facilitate the plans.
County Executive Jeff Huffman said the facility is expected to create between 60 and 75 new jobs. He said construction is expected to begin over the next two months and should be complete by the end of this year.
“Unilever already made the other announcement about expansion,” Huffman said. “One hundred to 200 more jobs (created) a year would be pretty good.”
Covington Mayor David Gordon said the plan for the U.S. Cold Storage building has been in the works for about nine months.
“It's another group of high-paying jobs,” Gordon said. “It solidifies Covington and Tipton County as a growing community. I think it will result in other industries locating here. It keeps us on the forefront and our name in the market place.”
The Unilever expansion announced last September was the second for the Covington facility.
Slim-Fast opened the plant in 1996 and produced weight loss products. Unilever bought it in 2000, phased out the weight-loss products and installed ice cream lines with a $100 million expansion. About 150 were employed at the time.
By 2016 there are expected to be about 1,000 employees at Unilever.
Unilever produces about 30 million gallons of ice cream and frozen desserts at the Covington plant, including Breyers, Fruttare, Good Humor, Klondike and Popsicle brands.
The company is generally considered the world's largest manufacturer of ice cream with U.S. annual sales over $2 billion.