ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – Great Lakes Cheese broke ground on its newest facility in Southeast Abilene Wednesday morning.

The new manufacturing and distribution site will be located on Highway 36 near Tige Boats.

Right now, the lot stays empty, but in a little more than a year it will be a full facility that will house around 500 new employees from right here in Abilene.

It’s a process that’s finally becoming real for Abilene Mayor Anthony Williams.

“To look around and see the dirt being moved and really seeing that this is going to happen,” said Mayor Williams.

Williams says the process to bring Great Lakes Cheese to Abilene started in the middle of 2020, when the company sent a blanket email to Governor Abbott’s desk asking him for possible locations.

Williams says he knew Abilene could answer the call.

“Because of the importance of this opportunity for our community, we won’t leave any rock unturned,” said Williams.

Great Lakes Cheese representatives visited the Key City Wednesday for the groundbreaking.

They say dirt has already been turned on the site and a contractor has already been hired.

Great Lakes Cheese says the hiring process will begin in the next couple of months, with the bulk of the new jobs filled by early next year.

“Abilene, our community, is not good enough for any of us unless it’s good enough for all of us, and part of that is providing more families to make a good income in our city,” said Williams.

The opening date for the plant isn’t scheduled until late 2022, but Mayor Williams says this is already a big win for the City of Abilene.

To see the entire ceremony, watch the video above.