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Edy's to grow, add jobs

A local ice cream maker is putting the cherry on top of its local factory.

Edy’s Grand Ice Cream plans to invest up to $1.5 million in a 2,500-square-foot expansion at 3426 Wells St. The plans include new visitor and employee entrances, a renovated 2,000-square-foot cafeteria, men’s and women’s locker rooms, two meeting rooms, an office, cubicle areas and a new uniform storage area.

“We’re busting at the seams because we have more employees than we ever anticipated,” spokeswoman Diane McIntyre said late Thursday.

The investment is on top of about $28 million in normal equipment and building upgrades the company expects to make over the next five years, said McIntyre, who works in the Oakland, Calif., office of Edy’s parent company, Nestle Dreyers Ice Cream Co.

Construction on the expansion is scheduled to begin Aug. 1 and be completed by March 31, 2013.

Equipment will be upgraded in the ice cream manufacturing, IT support and general warehousing areas. The company plans to improve processes, comply with regulations and maintain a competitive environment by replacing and upgrading existing equipment, according to a filing with the city.

The filing, which The Journal Gazette acquired Thursday, is the initial step for the company to win approval for a 10-year tax abatement on the project.

The plant’s 460 existing production workers make almost $35,000 a year, on average. McIntyre said the operation has openings for both permanent and part-time temporary workers. The facility also employs 93 in management.

The project will be introduced at the Fort Wayne City Council meeting on Tuesday, with a final vote set for July 10.

Edy’s created 120 full-time production jobs in 2010 when it ramped up production of Nestle Drumsticks. The company also invested in a $29.5 million expansion in 2008 that created 114 jobs.