Originally created 12/16/05

Augusta bakery will add production, 80 more jobs

There's a smell on Marvin Griffin Road, and it's only getting stronger.

The mouth-watering scents coming from Kellogg Co.'s Augusta bakery have increased with a new production line, company officials announced Thursday. The company sweetened the deal by creating 80 new jobs.

The Battle Creek, Mich.-based foods company has spent $18 million to bring production of Keebler brand Pecan Swirls, Cinnamon Swirls and Lemon and Raspberry Sandies cookies to Augusta.

Fifty of the new positions have been filled, and production already has begun, plant manager Tim McGee said.

After the 30 remaining positions are filled, the facility will employ 660 people.

The reason for expanding the bakery, known to locals as the Murray Biscuit plant, is the company's "true confidence level" for the city, Mr. McGee said.

"This confidence increased the company's interest in the plant," he said.

The product line was moved from an Illinois facility that baked goods such as brownies. With Augusta being strictly a cookie plant, it was more appropriate to produce them here, he said.

Kellogg, which purchased Keebler five years ago, adopted the Keebler/Murray Biscuit Co. plant at that time. Before the expansion, the company already baked Pecan Sandies, Chips Deluxe and Famous Amos cookies, among other brands.

To help facilitate Kellogg's most recent move, the Development Authority of Richmond County unanimously approved a $51 million industrial revenue bond as an incentive for the company.

The authority will issue the taxable bonds to Kellogg investors, helping the company finance the new production line and other production costs, said Jerry Dye, the authority's attorney.

Authority Chairman Loren Perry said the expansion is a "testimonial to Augusta's workforce and Augusta's future."

The smell will continue to waft out of the Augusta bakery, but with a new variety of offerings.

"There's nothing better than walking through the plant when they're cooking cookies," said Walter Sprouse, the development authority executive director.

In 2004, Kellogg had $9.6 billion in sales and employed almost 25,200 people.

Reach Tony Lombardo at (706) 823-3227 or tony.lombardo@augustachronicle.com.

Augusta's cookie history

- Augustan John L. Murray Sr., a salesman for Best Foods, started a cookie business in 1941 using a hand-crank cookie maker he was given as payment on a debt. He called the business Murray Business Co.

- The operation came under ownership of several companies, beginning with Beatrice Foods Inc. in 1965.

- The bakery was bought by Keebler Co. in 1998 and later came under the control of Kellogg Co. through its 2001 acquisition of Keebler.Source: Augusta Chronicle archives


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