FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT)- A 250,000 square foot Walmart milk processing plant is now open right here in Allen County. Construction first began on the plant back in 2016.
The plant hired nearly 200 Walmart associates and created over 100 new jobs in the dairy industry. Governor Eric Holcomb was there for the unveiling Wednesday, and even sampled the product.
"Today is such a great day. One, two, three. Economy, infrastructure, and the workers, boom," Governor Holcomb said.
The milk processing plant is Walmart's first instance of processing food in the United States. They'll manufacture all fat levels, chocolate milk, and the labels.
Indiana is already home to 21 dairy processing plants, making us 14th in the United States in milk production. This plant on Pleasant Center Road, will supply milk to nearly 500 Walmart stores in Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and parts of Illinois and Kentucky.
"To be able to do this here, to be able to supply five states with our area farmers, this is a big deal," Governor Holcomb said.
It's a big deal for Indiana, Allen County, and local dairy farmers like Tina Dirksen.
"I feel like it is a blessing that this opportunity came to us. It's a new opportunity, and our operation will be able to be much more efficient by just bringing our milk thirty miles away to Fort Wayne, Indiana," Dirksen said.
She said things will look up financially, but day to day operations and milk production will stay the same.
"Our milk belonged to a co-op, and through the co-op they decided where the milk would go, so it could change on the basis of whenever they wanted it to change. And now, we are independent, so we will bring all of our milk here to Walmart," she said.
Milk is already being bottled, and operations will be in full swing later in the year.
Walmart also presented $10,000 in grant money to local agriculture organizations following the ribbon cutting ceremony.