Swiss Valley Farms, Dubuque, Iowa, commenced the $20.6 million technological update and expansion at its Luana, Iowa, facility. The project centers around the improvement of the cheese manufacturing operating equipment, including the replacement of current press vats with a molding system solution, installation of additional system automation, press tunnels and new buffer tanks. It also includes a 49,000-square-foot expansion, which will allow room for new equipment and additional warehousing space.

"We're proud to have been able to retain all employees at this facility—there are no plans to eliminate any jobs despite the improvement in technology,” says Don Boelens, chief executive officer. “In fact, even prior to the groundbreaking, we were able to create more than 10 jobs and ramp up production at this facility to 7 days a week, which will continue throughout the project's completion."

"At this time of low prices for dairy farmers and a need for more processing capability in the Midwest, this expansion is happening at a very good time,” adds Pam Bolin, board chairperson. “This is positive news for dairy farmers, our employees at Swiss Valley, our customers, the area communities and the state of Iowa."

The Luana expansion effort is anticipated to be completed in late 2016 and will result in increased capacity and efficiency, giving the company the flexibility to produce new cheese varieties and sizes. This will also increase the production of cream cheese and whey.