ConAgra Foodssaid its Lamb Westonfoodservice potato and appetizer business will build a "state-of-the-art environmentally friendly" food plant near Delhi, La., to process frozen sweet potato fries and related products. ConAgra said it will initially spend $155 million for construction, although total investment could grow to more than $200 million by 2014 if the operation meets projected growth plans. The operation will employ about 275 people when it opens.

"This new processing plant is uniquely designed to enhance the quality of our sweet potato products in the most efficient way," said Jeff DeLapp, Lamb Weston president. "This allows us to continue bringing value to our customers. Those customers -- including some of the largest quick-service restaurant chains -- seek consistent, high quality sweet potato fries and other sweet potato products. We look forward to meeting the strong and growing demand for these potato products."

Officials say the operation also will be one of the nation's first to be designed and built in accordance with LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) standards for environmentally sustainable construction. Targeted goals include a "substantial reduction" in energy and water use. Officials say the plant design already has been registered with the U.S. Green Building Council.