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Company to cook up more jobs with city's help

Andy Ouriel • Dec 16, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Adrienne Gourmet Foods executives and city officials signed a pact to sweeten area employment opportunities this week through a city-funded economic development loan.

The company cooked up a deal with Erie County and Sandusky leaders that will allow it receive a $150,000 loan for factory upgrades at its Hancock Street facility.

Adrienne’s leaders plan to use the money to purchase an oven so workers can make organic crackers in Sandusky, rather than shipping in the snack from elsewhere. The company is also kicking in $150,000 of its own money to acquire a third oven.

Together the three ovens will allow workers to produce up to 8 million pounds of dough each year, company founder John O’Donnell said.

For a visual: One semi-truck holds about 40,000 pounds of dough, O’Donnell said.

The factory produces 20,000 pounds of cookies each day.

More production, of course, means more jobs.

By adding ovens, the company will generate 35 new jobs over a three-year period, including 20 in the next year.

Adrienne’s currently employs about 85 people.

“This is going to bring a lot of jobs and we hope this helps our long-term planning,” O’Donnell said Monday night. “This (loan) is going to leave us with a horizon to possibly expand and bring in two additional ovens.”

Other businesses in the city recently participated in similar agreements aimed at promoting economic development. Among them: Crush Wine Bar; Markley’s; and Erik’s Clothing for Men.

Entrepreneurs who pursue these arrangements help boost their own bottom line while improving the community, said Peter Zaehringer, executive director at Erie County Economic Development Corp.

“The city and county as a whole have not only gained a new employer, but a true leader,” Zaehringer said of O’Donnell.

Several city commissioners had initially balked at a plan to supply Zaehringer’s group with $30,000 tohelp create jobs and retain local businesses.

But the plan has since paid off and the community will be rewarded for years to come, city commissioner Dick Brady said.

“It sounded like a lot of money then, but now you are seeing that pay back,” Brady said. “This is a great success story.”

Adrienne’s moved to Sandusky from California this past year.

In January the company began making cookies and crackers at the 120,000-square-foot facility at 1034 Hancock St., the former home of the Consolidated Biscuit Factory.

Adrienne’s specializes in making private-label products for major grocery stores such as Meijer, Kroger and Walmart. It also bakes organic and gluten-free cookies and crackers.

There were numerous benefits to relocating to the Sandusky facility, O’Donnell said, including ample space for packaging foods and large refrigerators for storage.

“As we move forward in life, things have changed dramatically,” O’Donnell said. “But the one consistent product through the millennia has been food. And as long as we can create good food, there is demand.”

Sweet success

What: Adrienne’s Gourmet Foods is accepting a $150,000 economic development loan from the city. The deal will help create 35 new jobs over the next three years.

How: The company will use the money to purchase a third oven for its Hancock Street factory, allowing workers to produce crackers in-house. The factory already makes cookies. The added resource means workers can bake up to 8 million pounds of cookies and crackers each year.

Why: The loan will help Adrienne’s maintain a long-term presence in the city while also adding jobs.

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