Author: Jason White
Date: Saturday, March 1, 2014 Time: 11:12 AM
A longtime fixture in the Greater Des Moines produce business plans a $6 million manufacturing facility for Norwalk that will employ 165 people when it is completed, with a potential for 250 workers.
Loffredo Fresh Produce Inc. CEO Gene Loffredo discussed the project at a special City Council meeting Monday.
The council was called into a special meeting to consider an amendment to the city's urban renewal plan that would allow tax increment financing to be used on the project. The city plans to sell property in its industrial park to Loffredo.
No mention of the specific project was included in the council notice. However, the council got a sweet surprise when Loffredo appeared to discuss the project in more detail, according to those who attended the meeting.
Loffredo's would use the plant as a slicing facility for meats and produce.
According to a letter last month from Loffredo to Norwalk City Manager Marketa Oliver, the company also was considering moving its processing operations to St. Louis.
Loffredo traces its history in Des Moines to 1892 and grew its produce on several hundred acres on the city's southside. It initially served downtown hotels and restaurants. The company no longer grows its own vegetables and instead has become a large distributor with a warehouse and corporate headquarters at 4001 S.W. 63rd St. in Des Moines. Loffredo also has distribution centers in Carter Lake, Rock Island, Ill., and Kansas City, Mo.
According to the letter to Oliver, the manufacturing operation is too large for the Des Moines facility.
Loffredo has a request before the Des Moines City Council to rezone its 63rd Street property. Initially, the request was to expand its warehouse. City documents suggest that the company now simply wants to have a uniform zoning designation for its Des Moines site.
The Norwalk City Council will have a public hearing on the project Dec. 5.