Posted: 12:00 a.m. Saturday, March 2, 2013


Warren, Butler counties key areas for food and beverage manufacturing


Warren, Butler counties key areas for food and beverage manufacturing photo
MillerCoors scoured the Midwest for a place to locate its 111-acre brewery. It finally decided on Trenton in 1990 thanks to the large amounts of water, access to transportation and skilled workers the area provides.

By Hayley Day

Contributing Writer

When MillerCoors scoured the Midwest for a place to locate its 111-acre brewery, the company looked for a variety of components. The facility needed large amounts of water, access to transportation and skilled workers to produce their 11 million barrels of beer, annually.

When MillerCoors settled in Trenton in 1990, the company found just that.

Recent expansions of food manufacturers (such as Koch Foods in Fairfield and AdvancePierre Foods in West Chester Twp.), coupled with the opening of a Mason meat processing plant in 2014 (Empire Packing Company), solidify Butler and Warren Counties as a food and beverage manufacturers’ paradise.


Butler and Warren Counties have large amounts of renewable water from the ground and the Ohio River.

“Water and utilities are huge to food and beverage manufacturers,” said Tim Bachman, Fairfield’s economic development services director. “If a city doesn’t have them, those companies don’t look at you.”

MillerCoors chose to locate near the Great Miami Buried Valley Aquifer (GMBVA) for the “consistent supply of quality water,” according to Interim Plant Vice President John Hussy.

Koch Foods, the largest consumer of water in Fairfield, uses the same water source.

The GMBVA flows from Logan County, in Dayton, to the Southwest corner of Ohio, where Kentucky and Indiana meet. Fairfield has the highest amount of water in their section of the aquifer, according to Tim McLelland, the Hamilton to New Baltimore groundwater consortium manager, which oversees the aquifer.

That’s why Hamilton and Cincinnati Water Works drilled their groundwater wells in Fairfield. Hamilton and Fairfield offer competitive water rates because they own and operate their city’s supplies, as opposed to others, which use Cincinnati Water Works.

However, to McLelland, the water abundance is the main manufacturer draw.

“Western states often have water restrictions, especially during droughts,” said McLelland. “This region doesn’t have many restrictions because of the abundance of water, even during droughts like last summer’s.”

The city of Hamilton owns and operates gas, electric and sewer, also. An industry analysis of the city, released in September 2011, suggested Hamilton recruit food and beverage manufacturers, partly due to its competitive utilities cost.

“Up to 65 percent of Hamilton’s utilities come from green services, such as investments in hydroelectric dam projects on the Ohio River to ensure sustainability,” said Jason Hamman, a senior consultant of the consulting firm which created the report. “It usually costs less for residents.”


Current manufacturing jobs in the region create a skilled workforce from which to draw.

“MillerCoors is a short distance away, so we know there is already a labor market here,” said Hamilton’s Economic Development Director Jody Gunderson about the city’s recruit of food and beverage manufacturers.

Large food and beverage companies headquartered in the area, such as The Kroger Company and Procter & Gamble, add to the labor possibilities.

“Cincinnati has a wonderful talent pool that companies like Kroger and P&G draw,” said Mike Zelkind, senior vice president of operations at AdvancePierre Foods, Greater Cincinnati’s largest privately owned company by revenues. “It’s a pretty exciting place to live because of what they do for community, making it easy to recruit employees to Cincinnati.”

Butler and Warren Counties also have prime access to transport goods, according to Zelkind and Hussy. I-71 runs from Louisville, Ky. to Cleveland and 1-75 runs from Miami, Fla. to the upper peninsula of Michigan.

Butler and Warren Counties share two industrial railroad operators - Norfolk and Southern, which runs through 22 states and the District of Columbia, and CSX, which runs through 23 states, the District of Columbia and parts of Canada. RailAmerica’s Indiana and Ohio lines also operate in Warren County.

Both counties are less than an hour north of the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport and south of the Dayton International Airport, known for its cheap flights.

“What has been created is a food and beverage industry cluster in Southwest Ohio, where it’s not just manufacturers, but a region of industry knowledge, with supplies, customer service and headquarters,” said Hammon.

By the Numbers

Eight percent of Butler and Warren County manufactures are in the food industry sector, according to the 2011 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Here is a list of major food and beverage manufacturers in the region and their employee count.

AdvancePierre Foods, West Chester Twp.: 4,500 to 5,000

Empire Packing Company, Mason: 200 (to be created by 2014)

Koch Foods, Fairfield: 730 (390 new jobs to be created by 2015)

Martin Brower, Fairfield: 200

MillerCoors, Trenton: 500

Portion Pac, Mason: 410 (as of January 2011)

Schwan Foods, Middletown: 20

Sugar Creek Packing, West Chester Twp.: 75

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