WEDC tax credits help cooperative grow
MENOMONIE, WI. JULY 14, 2022 – Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes and Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary Randy Romanski were on hand Thursday to support the dairy farmer owners and cheesemakers of Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery as they held a grand opening for their new Menomonie creamery and store.
“This new facility will allow Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery to share the wonders of Wisconsin cheese curds with even more people,” said Hughes. “The more than $26 million investment in this facility will allow the creamery to grow nationally and internationally as well as develop additional specialty cheeses.”
WEDC, the state’s leading economic development agency, supported the project by offering up to $500,000 in state tax credits to the creamery. The actual amount of tax credits the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery will receive depends on the amount of capital investment and number of jobs created.
“The Menomonie Creamery is an exciting new part of the Cooperative,” said Paul Bauer, the cooperative’s CEO. “In its 112 years of operations this is the Creamery’s first new facility. We look forward to the growth and prosperity this location and community offer our member owners. A special thank you to the City of Menomonie and WEDC for making this possible for the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery.”
The new 60,000 square foot specialty cheesemaking facility began production in February with the retail store opening in April. The $26.1 million creamery replaced the cooperative’s aging Comstock Creamery. The Comstock Creamery staff were able to make the move to the new plant and the cooperative anticipates creating an additional 42 jobs.
“Investments like these support the community by creating jobs and the dairy industry through securing a market for milk producers,” Romanski said. “Wisconsin is known as America’s Dairyland due to our hard working dairy farmers, high quality milk, nutritious dairy products, and innovative companies like Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery.”
The Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery has more than 250 dairy farmer members. The cooperative is best known for its cheese curds, succeeding in getting Governor Tony Earl to declare Ellsworth the “Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin” in 1983. With the popularity of its curds still growing, the cooperative has now trademarked “Cheese Curd Capital.”
The new Menomonie Creamery is also designed to draw in community members and visitors with 11 windows in the store looking into the cheese plant so everyone can see how the cheese is made, Bauer said. That’s just one of the ways the creamery hopes to become part of the Menomonie community.
“Besides the expanded tax base and the job creation it brings to the city, the Menomonie Creamery is a tourist draw by itself for the entire region,” Menomonie Mayor Randy Knaack said. “The community is looking forward to a longstanding and growing partnership with them in Menomonie.”