MADISON, WI. March 30, 2017 – The Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery, which produces 80 tons of cheese curds a day, is getting a boost from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) for the expansion of its facility in western Wisconsin.
The creamery, which was founded in 1910, has been authorized by WEDC to receive up to $175,000 in state tax credits for the 28,500-square-foot expansion of its plant in Ellsworth, which is known as the “Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin.” The expansion project is expected to create 14 new jobs.
The expansion includes a 28,000-square-foot building that will be used for packaging of cheese products as well as additional cooler and dry storage space. The expansion will enable the creamery to purchase additional equipment needed to keep up with the growing demand for its cheese curds and cut cheese products.
“We’ve outgrown our space,” said Paul Bauer, manager of the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery. “These tax credits helped this project move forward, allowing us to expand employment opportunities and grow our market share outside of the state, both domestically and internationally.”
“Wisconsin is the top cheese-producing state in the nation, and the success of businesses like the Ellsworth Creamery is crucial to ensuring the industry remains strong,” said Mark Hogan, secretary and CEO of WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization. “We are pleased to be able to support this expansion, which is good news for Pierce County and the region, as well as the entire dairy industry.”
Under WEDC’s Business Development Tax Credit Program, the Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery can earn up to $175,000 in tax credits over a three-year period. The actual amount of credits earned is contingent upon the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment the company makes during that time frame. Since the Business Development Tax Credit Program was created last year, WEDC has awarded $15 million in tax credits to 40 companies throughout the state for projects expected to create or retain more than 7,000 jobs and generate $400 million in capital investment.
“The support of the WEDC affirms Wisconsin’s commitment to our business and agriculture overall. To us, this project is about more than square footage; we’re building a stronger dairy infrastructure for our employees, member owners and community,” add Bauer.
Steve Jahn, executive director of Momentum West, a regional economic development organization, said the creamery’s expansion is good news for the co-op, the county and the region.
“We’ve had a longstanding partnership with Paul and the Ellsworth Creamery Cooperative,” Jahn said. “Paul, his team and the operation are a shining model of a successful industry and we are thrilled that they continue to grow their footprint in the region.”
Ellsworth Creamery also has participated in several trade trips to China and southeast Asia sponsored by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). In addition to increasing overseas awareness of its own products, the creamery has been a strong advocate for increasing market share for all Wisconsin cheeses and dairy products on those trips.
“Their curds are a local favorite, but they have found favor in other countries as well,” said DATCP Secretary Ben Brancel. “I applaud Ellsworth for not only this expansion, but for its continuing efforts to promote the dairy industry around the world.”
Facts about cheese curds and Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery
- What is a Cheese Curd? Simply put, Cheese Curds are squeaky fresh delectable cheddar cheese in its natural, random shape and form before being processed into blocks of cheddar. Before the cheddar cheese is placed in blocks, the curd is salted and quick chilled to retain its curd shape.
- Legend has it that cheddar cheese curds became popular when Wisconsin cheese makers would take handfuls of these delicious and nutritious cheese morsels home to their children. Of course, they loved them, and the rest is history.
- Cheese curds are often referred to as “squeaky cheese” because of the squeaky sound they make when eaten fresh.
- Cheese Curd Hack: To restore the fresh squeak to an aged cheese curd, microwave for a few seconds until warm.
- Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery was proclaimed the “Cheese Curd Capital of Wisconsin” in 1984.
- Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery cheese curds are made from Farmer Certified rBST free milk.
- In addition to cheese curds, Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery produces over 80 varieties of artisan and specialty cheeses at their Comstock, WI facility. Varieties include their award winning Red Rind Muenster, Wisconsin Brick and Hot Pepper Jack.