LAUREL – Maryland officials broke ground Wednesday on an ice cream facility that they said will bring new jobs and economic gains to the state.
The $180 million expansion will increase the existing Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream facility to nearly 50 acres of land and 700,000 square feet of work space — six times larger than the current plant.
Dreyer’s said the new Laurel Operations Center will produce enough electricity to power Disneyland.
Dreyer’s expects to hire more than 300 new workers — in addition to the 220 current workers — by the plant’s completion in 2007. The facility will serve as the heart of Dreyer’s East Coast production.
Gov. Robert Ehrlich and Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, on hand for the groundbreaking, said the new facility reaffirms their campaign commitment to making Maryland a “business-friendly” state.
“Today is an example of the success that our team and this governor is dedicated to,” Steele said. The new facility will be a boon to Howard County and to all of Maryland, he added.
“We are a bottom-line administration,” Ehrlich said after he nonchalantly held up a small carton of mint chip ice cream and stated he was completely against — completely against — bribing the governor in any way. Then he gave his address in Annapolis.
“This is tangible — this is real,” he added, getting back to business as the crowd of several hundred laughed. “This is the kind of commitment and partnership we’ve talked about.”
Ehrlich said the economic gains of the new facility will go well beyond the new jobs and building contracts. He said local businesses will also see impressive growth because of the “multiplier effect” of increased revenue, and the state as a whole will benefit from increased tax revenue.
Dreyer’s Chairman and CEO T. Gary Rogers said it was Maryland’s willingness to work with businesses that made the expansion possible.
“This is the real deal,” he said. “One-hundred-eighty million dollars is a major commitment for a company our size.
“It’s fun to see a state that’s putting its money where its mouth is,” Rogers added.
Dreyer’s Grand Ice Cream Holdings Inc. produces a variety of ice cream and frozen desserts. Its labels include Edy’s, Nestle and Haagen-Dazs. They sell throughout the United States, as well as in the Caribbean and South America. Dreyer’s is also spending $100 million to expand its Bakersfield, Calif., facility.