Production is set to begin this month in a new manufacturing plant opening in Hazelwood as a private-label subsidiary of Post Holdings moves processing of its fruit and nut snacks from Canada.
The influx of nearly 350 jobs with 8th Avenue Food & Provisions helps stem a decades-long drain of manufacturing positions from the area. It also helps make good on a goal of civic leaders to boost the overall number of manufacturing jobs in the bi-state region as part of a broader economic development plan.
“St. Louis is [in] the middle of the country,” Charles Sargent, an East St. Louis native who has been hired to manage operations at the Hazelwood plant, said. “So [it offers] transportation advantages and distribution advantages. That makes it more attractive to get to our customers and service our customers on a real-time basis and the great workforce that’s here, that I know [about] firsthand. Those were the kind of factors that went into deciding to relocate here.”
To help cement the deal, the company is slated to receive $2.4 million in tax incentives, Sargent said, including a 10-year personal property tax abatement and State of Missouri job-training funds.
Beginning with about 50 workers on the first plant line starting Jan. 24, the operation is expected to grow to 346 workers by the spring.
The 250,000-square-foot plant, which replaces a smaller one in Burnaby, British Columbia, will prepare and package snack nuts, trail mix and dried fruit for retail, food service, and customers who use the items as ingredients.
Management is looking to fill a variety of supervisory and entry-level jobs across three shifts in fields, including quality, operations, production, warehouse, forklift operator, sanitation, and maintenance.
“The majority of them, if not all,” would be considered jobs that offer a living wage, Sargent said, noting the starting salary for the hourly workforce is $16.50.
He said most of the production jobs require at least a high school diploma or GED equivalent, and none of the positions require a master’s degree or higher.
The Hazelwood location is one of 10 manufacturing facilities 8th Avenue operates in North America, including two in Canada. The company, which posted 2020 sales of at least $1 billion, has about 2,000 workers worldwide.
8th Avenue Food & Provisions was formed in October 2018 through a combination of Post Holdings’ private brands’ businesses. It is owned by Post Holdings and funds affiliated with private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners.
It makes customized private label products, including pasta, peanut butter, snack nuts, trail mix, granola and more. Earlier this year, 8th Avenue purchased Ronzoni, the second leading dry pasta retail brand in the country, making 8th Avenue one of the largest pasta suppliers in the U.S.
The company moved its headquarters from Minneapolis to Fenton in June 2020 with about 120 workers.
The 8th Avenue announcement comes as the St. Louis region doubles down on efforts to boost the number of manufacturing jobs available locally.
From 2001 to 2020, St. Louis lost 51,000 manufacturing jobs, or 31% of the manufacturing jobs that existed in the metro in 2001, according to the STL 2030 Jobs Plan report put out last year by Greater St. Louis Inc.
In a statement, Greater St. Louis, Inc. Chief Executive Jason Hall called the 8th Avenue move a “big, big win for the St. Louis region and an important catalyst for North St. Louis County.”
The 100-plus page jobs report describes advanced manufacturing and production as one of five “strong clusters” in the two-state metropolitan area that have potential to “drive growth in the future.”
The cluster employs more than 57,000 workers regionally in fields including advanced software engineering, manufacturing, and consumer products and food production.
The report notes the segment “appears poised for growth in a post-COVID world, as the U.S. seeks to re-shore some components of manufacturing,” in part to address supply chain snarls that have boosted inflation.
The report proposes development of an Advanced Manufacturing Innovation
Center in the region to “drive innovation and support area manufacturers.”
For a full list of positions, visit the careers page of 8ave.com or text “CAREERS” to +1 (314) 597-8151. Note: the phone number does not accept voice calls.
Karen Robinson-Jacobs is The St. Louis American / Type Investigations business reporter and a 2021-2022 Report for America corps member.