December 28, 2023
COLUMBUS, IN – IRRESISTIBLE FOODS GROUP™, parent of the popular national brand, KING’s HAWAIIAN™, has announced plans to locate King’s Hawaiian’s first U.S. Midwest production site in Bartholomew County, Indiana, at a prominent I-65 location just outside Columbus near Taylorsville. King’s Hawaiian intends to invest up to $180 million to construct and equip a more the 300,000 square foot state-of-the-art bakery and production facility where they expect to employ nearly 150 people with an average wage of $29.94.
“We are very pleased to extend a warm welcome to King’s Hawaiian and celebrate their decision to establish roots in Indiana,” said Ann Lathrop, Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) chief strategy officer. “The company’s new facility will not only create high-quality jobs and competitive wages but also bring prosperity and robust growth into the community, benefitting Hoosiers for decades to come.”
The family-owned company, headquartered in Torrance, California, selected an 88-acre site located at the southeast corner of Exit 76 on I-65, opposite the Indiana Premium Outlets of Edinburgh. The company plans to break ground in 2024, with operations to commence sometime in late 2026/early 2027.
“After a thorough, multi-state search, we found the Columbus, Indiana area to offer us the best solution for our manufacturing and logistics needs. More than that, this area feels like home to us,” said Joe Leonardo, King’s Hawaiian SVP and Chief Operations Officer. “It’s a great community that we are excited to be a part of and work hand-in-hand with all the wonderful things that are happening here.”
Once operational, the initial facility will produce King’s Hawaiian’s well-known Hawaiian bakery products. Local leaders point out that the 88-acre site provides enough land for possible expansion, and the company’s history indicates growth with additional jobs is a definite possibility. Other operations within the Irresistible Foods Group portfolio include Grillo’s Pickles, Shaka Tea, and Innovation Bakers.
“We’re thrilled to welcome King’s Hawaiian to Bartholomew County,” said County Commissioner Tony London. “Not only does King’s Hawaiian make incredible products, but they are also a company that is known for making a positive difference in the communities they operate.”
When asked about what drew the company to Columbus and Bartholomew County, Indiana, Leonardo referenced the community’s workforce strengths, supportive business environment, and the strong presence of corporate and civic engagement that is demonstrated throughout the county.
“Schools and employers seem to talk to each other here, and local, city, and county government leaders really impressed us with the way they see a need and then work collaboratively,” said Leonardo.
One need that Bartholomew County officials identified was for additional offsite infrastructure to support not only King’s Hawaiian’s project, but also the surrounding Taylorsville area. Bartholomew County Council recently approved the allocation of up to $2.7 million from its Rainy Day fund to pay for upgrades to offsite water, sewer and road improvements, and the County Commissioners pledged an additional $646,000 from County Economic Development funds.
“We are exceptionally pleased to support King’s Hawaiian’s investment in our county, and the investment we are making will support the entire area while setting the groundwork to welcome a strong partnership for years to come,” said County Council president, Jorge Morales.
Based on the company’s investment and job creation plans, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) committed an investment in King’s Hawaiian of up to $1.8 million in the form of incentive-based tax credits; up to $200,000 in workforce training grants; and $400,000 to the local community from the Industrial Development Grant Fund to support infrastructure improvements. These tax credits are performance-based, meaning the company is eligible to claim incentives once Hoosiers are hired.
Locally, Bartholomew County government also approved a 10-year tax phase-in abatement on the company’s real and personal property investment, with the company agreeing to waive its real property abatement in exchange for the added infrastructure.
“King’s Hawaiian and Irresistible Foods Group will be a tremendous addition to Bartholomew County and the Columbus, Indiana area,” said Jason Hester, president of Greater Columbus Economic Development Corporation. “They precisely represent the type of high-paying, community-minded employer we love to work with, and food and beverage manufacturing is one of our top industry targets, for a true win/win project.”
With humble beginnings in Hawaii, the company quickly expanded to the mainland and established its headquarters in southern California. In 2011, King’s Hawaiian decided to expand its operations to Oakwood, Georgia and opened a 111,000 square foot bakery and distribution center. By 2018, the growing popularity of the company’s products led to an expansion of the Georgia facility and a substantial increase in the workforce from 100 workers to over 650 employees, and 2022 brought the announcement of a new 150,000 square foot facility and an additional 160 jobs. The announcement in Bartholomew County, Indiana, marks the company’s first operations in the Midwest.
About King’s Hawaiian
Founded more than 70 years ago in Hilo, Hawaii, by Robert R. Taira, KING’S HAWAIIAN is a family-owned business that for three generations has been dedicated to providing irresistible, original recipe Hawaii-inspired foods made with Aloha Spirit. A priority for the company is sharing the Hawaiian Way – a uniquely Hawaiian approach to hospitality based on graciousness, generosity, and a commitment to making everyone feel a part of the KING’S HAWAIIAN ohana (extended family). The company operates baking facilities in Torrance, California, and Oakwood, Georgia. For more information, visit the company’s website at KingsHawaiian.com, or find KING’S HAWAIIAN on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
About Irresistible Foods Group
Established in September 2021, Irresistible Foods Group (IFG) is the parent company to King’s Hawaiian, Grillo’s Pickles, and Shaka Tea. IFG is 100% family owned and is committed to authentically stewarding Irresistible brands into the future as they have with King’s Hawaiian for more than 70 years. We believe in irresistibility not just in our products, but in our values, ‘ohana (family) and roots. We believe the core of our irresistibility is our values. IFG strives to be the most trusted, influential, and value-creating family of authentic food & beverage brands that are beloved by their consumers for their irresistible products, uniquely connected through their shared values, and sold in the perimeter (of grocery stores). More info at irresistiblefoods.com.
About the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corporation
The Greater Columbus (Indiana) Economic Development Corporation is an independent, non-profit economic development organization serving Columbus, Edinburgh, and all Bartholomew County, Indiana. The organization’s goal is to grow & attract well-paying, high value-added, community-minded businesses by influencing and leveraging the area’s distinct capabilities in advanced manufacturing, design, and Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEM) education resources. Current industry diversification targets include Food & Beverage Manufacturing, Next Generation Mobility, Engineering Services, and Pharmaceutical Manufacturing. For more information, please visit www.ColumbusIN.org.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) is charged with growing the State economy, driving economic development, helping businesses launch, grow and locate in the state. Governed by a 15-member board chaired by Governor Eric J. Holcomb, the IEDC manages many initiatives, including performance-based tax credits, workforce training grants, innovation and entrepreneurship resources, public infrastructure assistance, and talent attraction and retention efforts. For more information about the IEDC, visit iedc.in.gov.