3 big food processors choose Pasco, betting on future Tri-City success

You may have noticed that our July issue’s front page, the spot where we put our most compelling news, is dominated by not one but three food processing stories out of Pasco.

We normally strive to offer a more diverse mix and try to feature stories from at least two or three of the four (or five or six) cities that make up the Tri-Cities.

But July was different. News that Darigold Inc., Reser’s Fine Foods and an indoor agriculture startup in the middle of a $1.1 billion IPO are building new plants in Pasco was too, well, compelling to ignore.

We promise there is plenty of interesting news from the other points on our compass in the July edition. But we hope you’ll appreciate the scope of what’s happening in Pasco at the moment.

Darigold, Reser’s and Local Bounti together will spend as much as $1 billion to build plants in our community. They could have chosen other spots. No doubt fierce battles to lure them were being fought behind the scenes elsewhere. But they chose us.

As Randy Hayden, executive director of the Port of Pasco, said of Reser’s, it chose Pasco because it’s had a good experience here since it first landed in 1998.

Darigold, the dairy cooperative based in Seattle, will build its largest protein and butter plant – milk drying for short – ever, a $500 million investment.

Portland-based Reser’s Fine Foods bought a portion of the old Cox Farms for its new expansion plant, a 250,000-square-foot giant that dwarfs its existing 110,000 square foot plant at the Pasco Processing Center. As Hayden noted, Reser’s looked at other sites before staying in Pasco.

It hasn’t disclosed its project budget, but it could extend into the nine-figure range.

Local Bounti is a newcomer to the food processing industry. The Hamilton, Montana-based startup is building a $40 million greenhouse complex in Pasco, fueled by a merger/IPO deal with a special purpose acquisition firm called Leo Holdings III.

We talk a lot about economic diversification in the Tri-Cities, about developing an economy that can stand on its own two feet, independent from the steady stream of funding flowing from the U.S. Department of Energy to Hanford cleanup.

No one is complaining about the wealth that creates in both talent and tech here.

But manufacturing, specifically food manufacturing, brings something else. The Tri-Cities is one of, if not the most, important food processing communities in the Northwest. We’re glad the big guys like Darigold and Reser’s agree, and that a newcomer like Local Bounti is betting its future success on us too.

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