A California company has announced plans to build one of the largest ramen producing facilities in the country in the Black Hills at Belle Fourche. Albany Farms hopes to start noodle production early next year.
CEO Bill Sailer says the company currently manufactures its products overseas, but decided it needed to switch gears once the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Sailer says importing food became problematic because of transportation issues including the global supply chain and the cost of shipping containers. Container prices have gone up an average of $18,000 in recent months to double overall import costs.
Albany Farms bought the Belle Fourche site with plans to expand the existing facilities by adding a second production factory, a flour mill, and packaging areas that would produce more than 100 million packages of ramen each year
While the company says the complex will eventually employ up to 900 people, Belle Fourche Economic Development says operations will probably start with 50 or 60 jobs, then ramp up to 150 over the first year.
Agency director Hollie Stalder says future jumps in the number of workers are expected as the various phases of the project are completed.
Stalder admits the Black Hills area, like much of the country, has workforce and housing shortages, but she says Belle Fourche Economic Development will be working closely with Albany Farms to find and train workers.
As for housing, Stalder says work on a community housing plan began last week with the housing study already completed – adding that her board is working with Belle Fourche and Butte County to find interested developers.