By Joel Phelps
Hostess Brands is now contractually obligated to create at least 150 jobs in Clark County.
In a Tuesday meeting of the county’s Economic Development Corp., board members gave their approval of an agreement to provide Hostess with $2 million from a 1/2-cent sales tax collected for the purpose of creating jobs in Clark County. The Kansas-based company in March pledged its intent to repurpose the old Danfoss facility in the Clark County Industrial Park.
Eric Hughes, vice-chair of the EDCCC, questioned the number of jobs agreed upon. The original number the board was given was 170 jobs. “I’m seeing this [150 jobs] for the first time,” Hughes said. “Is this a typo?” CEO J.L. Griffin said his recommendation to the board then was to approve $1.3 million, but that the EDCCC opted for another $250,000.
Griffin said that at one time the figure was 170 jobs, and the 150 jobs was later discussed. “I think right now Hostess doesn’t know for sure exactly how many full time employees” will be hired within the next three years, Griffin said. “They talked about maybe adding something else in a year or two.”
Board member Lori Ross said the language in the agreement should read “at least” rather than the “approximately” 150 jobs originally in the agreement. It was agreed to make that change.
The Gum Springs facility will be one of six Hostess factories in the U.S. The local operation will produce “every variety” of donuts the company makes: powdered, chocolate, glazed, specialty and seasonal variations.
Matt Hall, a human resources representative for the company, was present at Tuesday’s meeting to give updates on the Gum Springs facility. Hall said the operation is “on track” to crank up its line in 2023, with a majority of its demolition scheduled for July. From there, Hostess will begin the process of filling half the building with its own equipment.
Hall said the Gum Springs facility will be the company’s most energy efficient line, and will provide “good wages across the board.” The average wage for workers at the local operation will be $23.84, according to Hostess.
A plant director has been hired and will be relocating to Clark County from North Carolina, Hall said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson is slated to visit the site in late August.