McKee Foods Finds Virginia Has the Recipe for Success


No. 1 Brand of Snack Cakes Praises Productivity of Virginia Workforce


McKee Foods recently announced plans to expand its Stuarts Draft facility in Augusta County, Va. The company expects to create 78 new jobs and invest $19 million, making this one of the most advanced manufacturing plants in the baking industry. McKee Foods has operated in Augusta County for more than two decades, announcing more than 800 new jobs and $98 million in capital investment.

Best known for its Little Debbie® line of snack cakes, McKee Foods produces a wide range of food products under the Sunbelt®, Heartland® and Fieldstone™ Bakery brands. The company has successfully grown from a five-person bakery in the 1930’s to America’s No. 1 brand of snack cakes. Increased demand for the company’s line of Little Debbie® donuts is a major driver for the additional production capacity.

Virginia has successfully competed against Arkansas and Tennessee over the years, and the high productivity of the local workforce helped Virginia win this latest project. The plant’s productivity, measured in cases produced per employee, has improved by 24 percent over the last two years, with the same number of employees and no additional automation.

According to McKee Foods President and CEO Mike McKee, "We have found our Virginia workforce to be some of the most loyal and highly-skilled employees in the industry—and about 85 members of our Virginia workforce have been at the plant since it opened."

In addition to a strong manufacturing workforce, Virginia provided McKee Foods with a strategic location, offering easy access to the company’s Northeastern and Canadian customers. Located in the Shenandoah Valley, the Stuarts Draft location also offers McKee employees a high quality of life, due to its close proximity to a number of national parks.

Virginia’s ability to help companies improve their bottom lines has been a major draw for food and beverage manufacturing companies. With a corporate income tax rate of 6 percent, an unemployment tax burden 32 percent lower than the national average, construction costs 16 percent lower than the national average, and favorably priced utility rates, more than 550 food and beverage companies have set up operations in the Commonwealth.

To learn why food and beverage manufacturers have invested more than $1.9 billion in Virginia over the last decade, click here.

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