When Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel presented his annual State of the City address in March, he spoke in broad terms about the area’s economy. He also zeroed in on a company with a history of investing in Evansville: Berry Plastics. Weinzapfel applauded the company’s ongoing $150 million expansion “that will lead to the creation of 360 new jobs in the coming years,” he said. “That’s on top of the 250 jobs Berry added when it consolidated its corporate headquarters here. Those jobs could have gone anywhere in the world.”
Two years ago, Evansville Business profiled Berry CEO Ira Boots, who has overseen dramatic growth since he took the helm in 2001 (“A Blue-Collar CEO,” February/March 2008). One of the company’s milestones came in late 2007, when Berry chose Evansville as its world headquarters. Another came in March 2009, when executives announced the expansion of thermoform operations. The plan included a new facility (visible from First Avenue and the Lloyd Expressway) that would increase the production capacity of drink cups, lids, and other food service items.
One year after the announcement, construction is complete, and manufacturing lines are up and running, says Randy Hobson, executive vice president of commercial development at Berry. Expanding manufacturing operations was the company’s first focus, and new office space is next. “We’re just getting started on that part,” Hobson says, with the first quarter of 2011 as a target date for completion.
Hobson credits government support, including tax credits, for moving the expansion forward. “We look forward to holding up our end of the bargain,” he says, “with expansion of manufacturing and jobs for the community of Evansville.”
For more on Berry Plastics and the expansion, visit www.berryplastics.com.