Work on a 180,000-square-foot Starbucks Coffee Co. manufacturing facility in Augusta remains on schedule for an early 2014 completion date.
The plant’s packaging operations, however, are expected to begin earlier in October, according to Starbucks spokesman Zack Hutson.
“So far, we have made significant progress on the roasting, packaging and office areas of the plant,” Hutson said. “We are still working on the part of the plant that will house the soluble technology.”
Construction began in July 2012 on the $172 million facility, which will produce Starbucks VIA Ready Brew, the coffee base for its Frappuccino beverages and many Starbucks ready-to-drink products.
More than 140 workers will be employed at the site in Augusta Corporate Park, off Mike Padgett Highway. Hiring is underway and many positions, including maintenance mechanics, automation specialists and operators, still need to be filled. The plant manager and human resources staff have already been hired, Hutson said.
The plant will take up about 100 acres, leaving about 1,100 usable acres at the corporate park, said Walter Sprouse, the executive director of the Augusta Economic Development Authority.
Sprouse said the Seattle-based company is the first to locate in the industrial park and looked at the site for about a year.
“It’s not unusual for a company to look for a year-and-a-half,” he said.
Since the Starbucks announcement in early 2012, Sprouse said the site has been shown nearly a dozen times to prospective tenants. Two companies are each interested in 200 acres, he said.
“It’s always good to have some activity going on in an industrial park because it attracts attention,” Sprouse said.
The Augusta location was chosen because of its workforce availability, transportation access, logistics and technology base, quality of life and support from local and state leaders, Hutson said.
The Augusta plant is Starbucks’ first company-owned global manufacturing facility to make soluble products, which are currently produced abroad. The company has four other U.S. roasting plants that collectively employ more than 800 workers.
“We are proud to be bringing high-quality manufacturing jobs to Augusta, when many American companies are sourcing products from overseas,” Hutson said.