The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

May 19, 2009

FoodSwing to close Point Township plant

Company relocating to Maryland

NORTHUMBERLAND -- Proposed utility hook-up costs in excess of $1.5 million scuttled plans for a FoodSwing Inc. expansion in the Valley and will lead to the closure of the food manufacturing and packaging plant, the company president said.

Roger Hoffman, FoodSwing president and chief executive officer, said the company headquarters at 50 Oak Road, Northumberland, will relocate to Maryland and a planned expansion at the Milton Industrial Park has been dropped, which means the Valley will lose 150 new jobs officials had projected.

Hoffman declined to say when the local plant will close.

"That's between me and the employees who, unfortunately, will be out of work," Hoffman said.

Founded in New York City in 1999, FoodSwing established headquarters in Northumberland in 2001. Today, the company employs about 88 and has an estimated annual sales of $16 million providing private-label foods for retailers such as Weis Markets and Trader Joe's Whole Foods.

"I moved my family from metropolitan New York to Lewisburg with the specific intention of expanding FoodSwing into the Northumberland, Lewisburg and Montandon area," Hoffman said.

The corporation had been working with the Governor's Action Team and local officials and spent more than $1 million developing a new site in Montandon when the deal fell through in the final permit stage, he said.

Specifically, Hoffman said, he backed out after learning the cost to connect the new facility to local water, sewer and electrical utilities at the Tanner site in the industrial park would be more than $1.5 million.

The high utility expense combined with the economic crisis doomed the plan, he said.

"At that point, when you do the math, it could put my company out of business," Hoffman said.

State and local officials weren't in a position to help out, he added.

At the same time, the state of Maryland was offering FoodSwing a facility and financial assistance to train staff in Cambridge, where utilities were "a fraction of the cost."

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