FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Executives from Wilde Brands Inc., a producer of high-protein, keto-diet-friendly snack chips made from all-natural chicken breast, announced plans for a $9.78 million, 50-job production and distribution facility in Clark County.
To create a healthier alternative to potato chips, Wilde Brands developed a proprietary production process using custom-engineered manufacturing equipment to produce the first mass-market animal protein chips. The current lineup of Wilde Brands chicken chips includes Buffalo, Nashville Hot, Chicken & Waffles, Himalayan Pink Salt, Sea Salt & Vinegar and Jalapeo.
President and company founder Jason Wright said the company will have about 30 jobs this year and 50 to 75 jobs next year. He founded the company in Boulder, Colo., but is moving about 50 percent of it to Kentucky.
“In Kentucky, we are focused on rebuilding our economy and positioning it to create stronger, more prosperous communities. Wilde Brands as the latest, rapidly growing addition to the commonwealths expansive food and beverage industry represents a welcome part of that effort,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. “In addition to creating meaningful employment in Central Kentucky, Wilde Brands will help ensure we continue to diversify and innovate within the industry. I’d like to thank Jason Wright, Wilde Brands CEO, and his team for selecting Kentucky and achieving their timeline, despite the challenges posed by COVID-19. I look forward to the growth and success of their Kentucky facility.”
Wilde Brands will operate in an existing 50,000-square-foot facility on Tierney Way in Winchester. The new location will allow the company to increase production volume, expand U.S. sales and meet growing customer demand. Renovations are ongoing and the plant is scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2020.
Wright noted the new location also provides an opportunity for additional research and development to expand Wilde Brands product range, starting with a first-to-market pork chip. That new line is scheduled to launch on the company’s website in December and hit store shelves by January 2021.
Wright said the company is thrilled to move its operations to Winchester and thanked those involved, including the buildings owners, Ron and Patrick Tierney.
“My team, led by Philippe Barnoud, scouted many locations throughout Kentucky, ranging from the Jackson Purchase to inner Bluegrass, and in the end, the decision was easy. Nothing compared to the warm welcome Ron and Patrick Tierney showed me and my team,” Wright said. “From our first meeting, the Tierneys felt like part of the Wilde team and they continue to go above and beyond to help Wilde construct a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Winchester. Without Ron and Patricks support, it would be difficult to achieve our timeline of opening this new facility by November. I also want to thank Gov. Beshear, the City of Winchester and the Commonwealth of Kentucky for all of their support.”
Wright founded Wilde Brands in 2017 in Boulder, Colo. The company joins Kentucky’s food and beverage industry, which currently includes more than 350 facilities employing over 52,000 people. In 2020 alone, food and beverage companies have announced 13 new or expansion projects totaling over $377 million in future investment and nearly 575 jobs announced.
Rep. Les Yates, of Winchester, said the time is now to build Kentucky’s future and this project reflects that commitment.
“It is crucial, now more than ever, to invest in this commonwealths economy. Winchester is honored to house the first Kentucky Wilde Brands facility,” Rep. Yates said. “This $9.78 million investment will also help boost Kentuckys workforce by providing more opportunities for higher-paying jobs with benefits for those in the surrounding counties.”
Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner recognized the collaboration needed to attract a quality company like Wilde Brands.
“The addition of Wilde Brands to our community is great news,” Mayor Burtner said. “We are fortunate to have such great community and state partners working together to create jobs and investment in Winchester and Clark County.”
Clark County Judge/Executive Chris Pace said the business climate focused on continued growth will help ensure the companys long-term success.
“Clark County is proud to have this exciting new opportunity for growth and jobs locate to our community,” Judge/Executive Pace said. “We strive to make sure all business and industry have an atmosphere in which they can thrive and succeed. Wilde Brands will be another great success story for our town, region and state.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in July preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $509,000 in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $9.78 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 50 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $20 including benefits across those jobs.
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, Wilde Brands can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives.