Kraft expansion marvelous for New Ulm

To the editor:

Back in the mid-1950’s, a group of business leaders formed New Ulm Industries (today New Ulm Economic Development Corporation), using their own funds and their own financing, to both recruit and facilitate land acquisition, the first-ever city annexation of additional land, infrastructure extension, and construction of a manufacturing plant, subsequently selling it to Kraft Foods. Since that time there have been several expansions on the site, including the one that brings the “Home of Velveeta” to New Ulm.

This past Saturday, Kraft Heinz opened its doors to existing employees, retirees and their families to tour the new addition. My husband, Bob, a retired 31-year employee, and I were among those marveling at the new facility. It was like stepping into a vast set of a sci-fi movie! We couldn’t help but be impressed with the ramifications of the vote of confidence Kraft took in locating this multi-million dollar expansion in New Ulm. There is a trickle-down and a trickle-up, if there is such a thing, impact when all is said and done. Among those:

• The equipment, some of which we could see was made in Minnesota and Wisconsin, meant industrial engineers and manufacturing teams were at work in other communities tooling precisely the intricate network of equipment — and now, locally, there is employment for folks to use this equipment, some for production and some for sanitizing it;

• The technology, meaning computer engineers were employed to design software and programs that perform precise techniques within the manufacturing process and which require employees to operate it;

• The materials used in and the physical construction of the building, again providing jobs within those industries;

• More significantly, the jobs available to those who will work in producing Velveeta on site — indeed, 40,000,000 pounds have been produced from April 12, 2017 up to this weekend!

• Not to be taken for granted, the impact of the property taxes being paid by this industry and others in New Ulm, benefitting our schools, city and county.

New Ulm can first of all be proud that we were selected for this expansion, knowing there were solid reasons for choosing this site. But we can also be grateful, especially when you consider how many area families have been positively affected — good wages, insurance benefits that extend into retirement, and a retirement package. Many mouths have been fed; many families cared for in illness; many a retiree breathing a little easier because they have retirement benefits. We have heard of the labor shortage that is currently confronting New Ulm. Perhaps one thing we can do to show our gratitude is attempt to recruit some of our young people back to beautiful New Ulm to work at Kraft Heinz or at one of our other wonderful businesses.

Thank you, Matt Hippe, Plant Manager, and team, for an eye-opening tour, for being a part of New Ulm, and for giving New Ulm yet another reason to be proud.

Mary Ellen Domeier

New Ulm