By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — City leaders moved one step closer to approving a $5.9 million plan to move a Wausau cheese plant from the river’s edge to the city’s Business Campus.
Great Lakes Cheese anticipates adding 125 jobs following the move, the bulk of which would have salaries ranging from $30,000 to $45,000 per year, according to city documents. The project, which includes building a new 150,000-square-foot facility with parking for 200 employees, will cost about $50 million. Great Lakes Cheese Wausau facility currently employs about 200 people. The proposal did not say if or when additional parking would be added to accommodate those new employees.
The written proposal did not specify when those jobs would be created or how they would be verified. Job creation numbers for development agreements are typically self reported.
In exchange for the $5.9 million, Great Lakes Cheese will “donate” the existing facility at 101 Devoe Street “as is” to the city of Wausau, city documents show. Prior to the move, Great Lakes will undergo up to two environmental assessments to help determine the extent of lead, asbestos or other environmental concerns that exist at the property. The project proposal does not say who would pay for environmental cleanup of the land.
Wausau will then be responsible for tearing down the existing building and extending infrastructure to the site. No estimate was given on those costs.
Members of the economic development committee on Tuesday approved the plan unanimously. The project must be approved by the full city council to move forward.
Wausau Finance Director MaryAnn Groat at a May 8 Committee of the Whole meeting said the city is negotiating with the Judd S. Alexander Foundation to fund the project along with buying the adjacent Wausau Chemical property.
Great Lakes Cheese initially asked the city for $7.9 million, but lowered that to $5.9 million after securing $2 million from the state to assist in the move.