“This is a game changer.”

Mayor Anthony Williams

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – A cheese packaging project is coming to Abilene, bringing 500 jobs with an average salary of $60,000.

The City of Abilene, alongside the Development Corporation of Abilene, announced Project Legacy Friday morning, which is the biggest project they’ve attracted in the past 30 years.

“This is a game changer,” said Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams. “This was a dream years ago when Abilene was the first city in this state with a development corporation.”

DCOA officials have extended $33.3 million in incentives to Great Lakes Cheese Company, luring them to Abilene, where they will build a 282,000 square foot facility off Hwy 36 and Loop 322.

Officials haven’t disclosed the timeline of the project, but they did say it would involve packaging and co-packaging cheese and it will make Abilene the “largest cheese packager in the world”.

The direct economic impact of this project on Abilene over the next 10 years is an estimated $1.3 billion, meaning every dollar the DCOA invested has a projected $12 in return.

Map showing the location for the Great Lakes Cheese facility in Abilene, located off Loop 322 and Hwy 36.

An estimated 510 jobs will be created, with an average salary of $60,000. Most of the hiring is expected to be done next year, with some hiring beginning as soon as May.

“I am so proud of our determined economic development team and all of those who are working hard to make this partnership with Great Lakes Cheese a reality. With a projected creation of over 500 high-paying jobs, these opportunities are critical for Abilene’s future and we look forward to officially welcoming Great Lakes Cheese to its newest home in Abilene, Texas,” said Misty Mayo, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Development Corporation of Abilene.

Great Lakes Cheese Company, which is currently located in Ohio and supplies about 25% of all the packaged cheese consumed in America, said it looks forward to being a part of Abilene.

“Abilene and Texas are a great fit for Great Lakes Cheese because we share the same values,” said Great Lakes Cheese Vice President for Sales and Marketing El Khattary. “Our work, honesty, integrity – that’s what we stand for.”

Khattary said Great Lakes Cheese has an ownership culture.

“Anybody who joins Great Lakes Cheese in the future instantly becomes an owner of the company,” said Khattary. “We look forward to being here for generations.”

Senator Dawn Buckingham, Governor Greg Abbott, and Representative Stan Lambert celebrate Great Lakes Cheese coming to Abilene.

Governor Greg Abbott, Senator Dawn Buckingham, and Representative Stan Lambert joined the City of Abilene after the announcement to express their excitement for the project, which is a big win for business in Texas.

“We are proud to welcome Great Lakes Cheese to the state of Texas, and we are excited for the impact that this company will have on Abilene’s economic success,” said Governor Abbott. “Great Lakes Cheese joins the ranks of thousands of companies that have chosen to invest in the Lone Star State. Our model of low taxes, reasonable regulations, and incredible workforce continue to attract investments that keep Texas the best state for business.”