Starbucks may locate processing plant in Carson Valley
Nearly 200 jobs could be headed to Douglas County as coffee giant Starbucks brews a decision to build a roasting and manufacturing plant at the Carson Valley Business Park.
Douglas County is in competition with Stead and Fernley for the 300,000-square-foot plant. If Starbucks chooses Carson Valley, the company will need a height variance for silos to store its coffee at the Johnson Lane site.
On May 8, the Seattle-based coffee giant will ask the Douglas County Planning Commission for a variance allowing the 80-foot silos. County regulations limit height to 45 feet.
Douglas County “has a great manufacturing community and it has a good sense of culture,” said Rick Arthur, vice president of operations for Starbucks on Thursday. “The community itself has a nice feeling. There is a community spirit in Douglas County that is attractive and says a lot about its people and environment.”
The silo structure itself would be enclosed and not look like ranching silos often found in the Valley, said county planner Pete Wysocki.
“It’s a component to the building, a one-wall structure that acts as a shell,” Wysocki said.
Besides the variance, other factors could play in the decision, including transportation. Arthur, speaking from the Starbucks home office in Seattle, said Douglas County is a “great location” as far as distribution is concerned, allowing for good routes along Highway 395 north and south and access to Interstate 80.
While the communities of Stead and Fernley are also gunning for the coffee company and have the advantage of rail service, Starbucks chose to go public with its Douglas County prospects because it needs to know whether it will be welcomed, Arthur said.
“We think Starbucks would be a great addition to the Douglas County community and hope that the planning commission and the residents of the area agree,” said company spokesman Chris Gimbl.
Starbucks could decide within 30-45 days and needs about 18 months to prepare, build and open the plant for business, Gimbl said.
“I think they’re pretty serious about us,” Douglas County Manager Dan Holler said Friday. “They’ve shown a genuine interest in the area, our employment base and our aesthetics. It’s a good fit. I’m cautiously optimistic.”
Starbucks is looking to Nevada to expand its Southern California and southwestern distribution, Arthur said.
The company is looking for a good location to expand into Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Texas and has taken a serious look at Northern Nevada because of its central location, he added.
“We find the location… to be very attractive and are currently taking steps to gauge community reaction to the possible facility,” Gimbl said. “While we would be happy to be a part of the Douglas County business community, there are several steps that need to be taken before we can finalize timing and a location.”
The potential site is located on a 50-acre lot at the Carson Valley Industrial Park. The plant is low-impact environmentally and will use a minimal amount of water, said Gary Cook, owner of the industrial park.
“Most people in the Carson Valley want to preserve the valley. We have properties here that are zoned in a way to preserve the essence and have made a commitment to attract the highest quality business,” Cook said. “The beauty of the Starbucks deal is that this is a company of international reputation that will provide good jobs and have a minimal impact on our environment.”
Starbucks has two plants similar to the one it hopes to build, in Kent, Wash., and York, Penn. Each plant employs about 200 workers and manufactures between 60-100 million pounds of coffee a year.
The facility itself would be about 300,000 square feet and would occupy only a small portion of the total 50-acre site, Gimbl said. During the first year of operation, it would employ 50 to 60 people, most of whom would be hired locally, he added. Plans would be to expand the operation after its first year and be in full swing within five years.
On Wednesday, Arthur met with county officials to discuss the potential plant and to feel out the community. He said he liked what he saw.
“We’ve had some preliminary meetings, and overall their response was pretty positive,” Arthur said. “They didn’t feel there were huge issues with the height variance.”
Arthur stressed the company wants to have good community ties.
“We want to be in communities we like and communities that will welcome us,” he said. “We provide high-quality, good paying jobs. We look to communities that are accepting to this kind of relationship.”
Douglas County Commission Chairman Bernie Curtis met with Arthur and is excited about the prospects.
“I’ve been paying attention to Starbucks personally for a long time.” Curtis said, adding he is a stock holder. “I’m excited because I can tell you they would be a good neighbor and will provide a clean industry if they decide Douglas County is where they want to settle.”
Starbucks has several retail locations in Northern Nevada, including one that opened last year in Carson City.
Arthur visited the Carson City Starbucks and said the place was busy enough that he experienced a long wait.
“It’s a terrific place that is well-received in the community,” Arthur said of the Carson City store.
Starbucks Coffee Company was founded in 1971 and is the leading seller, roaster and brand of specialty coffee worldwide. In addition to its stores in North America, the United Kingdom, continental Europe, the Middle East and Pacific Rim, Starbucks sells coffee and tea products through its speciality operations, including its online store at Starbucks.com.
Starbucks has been recognized throughout the world for its comprehensive benefits package, according to a company press release. Benefits include medical, vision and dental coverage, stock options and a free pound of coffee a week.
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