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Leprino Foods breaks ground on $1 billion cheese plant in East Lubbock

Published: Jun. 15, 2022 at 7:18 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Leprino Foods broke ground on its new $1 billion cheese plant being built in East Lubbock on Wednesday.

Company executives and Lubbock officials marked the first step of construction in a ceremony on Wednesday morning.

The 850,000 square foot manufacturing facility will produce more than one million pounds of cheese daily. Leprino is one of the largest producers of mozzarella in the world.

While the groundbreaking marks the first step in construction, the plan for Leprino to come to Lubbock has been in the works for years. Company executives say the plant will generate $10.6 billion in the area over over the next 10 years.

Lubbock County Judge Curtis Parrish was at the ceremony to mark the occasion.

“From this day forward, Lubbock’s story now includes Leprino. As we tell the story of Lubbock for our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren, the name of Leprino is folded in with Lubbock,” Parrish said.

The facility will be just outside East Loop 289, on 19th Street. Leprino Foods president and CEO Mike Durkin says the decision to bring the plant to Lubbock was a gut feeling.

“From our first early meetings to today, we knew, we really did know, Lubbock would be a great choice for us and Leprino. There was something about the fit around culture, hard work, core values. As I said, it just felt right,” Durkin said.

Leprino’s decision was made easier by the work of several different entities that worked to attract the manufacturer, including the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance, the City of Lubbock, Lubbock County, higher education officials, and area dairy suppliers.

“There was an instant identification of a sense of family, family values - a sense of a work ethic that is so aligned with what we know in Lubbock, Texas,” Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said. “We’re going to do everything possible at Texas Tech to help develop the workforce that will be an asset to this facility, move into your management levels and we’ll work with the local Independent school districts and South Plains [College] in any way we can.

The plant will rely on regional dairy farmers to bring in roughly 200 truckloads of milk every day. Jasper DeVos recently took ownership at Fox Dairy in Plainview, after his dad ran the dairy for 20 years.

“It’s really great to hear of a company like Leprino, with a reputation as good as Leprino, is investing in this area. Being confident in the future of the dairy industry, it’s something that I do every single day and it’s great seeing other people seeing the security and the foundation that we have here in this area,” DeVos said.

The facility will bring in 300 construction jobs and more than 600 employees when it’s operational. John Osborne, the president and CEO at LEDA, says their paychecks will help Lubbock’s retailers, restaurants and bring new money into the economy.

“They’ve got people that want to move to Lubbock from other locations that have interests in these jobs because they want to be in Texas. They want to be in Lubbock, Texas and that’s very exciting for us,” Osbourne said.

The city plans to improve and widen the road between Loop 289 and the property. The plant will also recycle its water and pump it back into the city’s system. Durkin says construction will start as soon as next week and Leprino plans to start distributing product in November 2024.

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