Sara Lee Frozen Bakery is going to begin a $19.8 million expansion of the company’s plant just off U.S. 258 southwest of Tarboro that is going to create 108 new jobs.
“Food manufacturers like Sara Lee Frozen Bakery choose communities that can help them succeed and for 30 years Tarboro has been that place,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement on Monday. “Sara Lee has decided to expand on their decades-long partnership because they know this community well and it has the workforce they need to reach their goals.”
The state Commerce Department issued the statement.
The statement emphasized salaries for the new jobs are going to vary by position, but said those jobs are going to average $40,266 compared to the average annual pay of $34,401 in Edgecombe County.
“This is the beginning of a new and exciting chapter for Sara Lee Frozen Bakery and we’re confident that Edgecombe County and North Carolina is the right place for the company to expand,” Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland said in the statement. “The company continues to innovate and perfect its operations and product mix and we’re proud to support them in their work.”
Other officials expressed elation via the statement.
“This is great news for our community,” state Sen. Milton F. “Toby” Fitch, D-Wilson, said. “These good paying jobs will lift up more families in Edgecombe and surrounding counties and benefit the entire area.”
“We’re proud to call Sara Lee Frozen Bakery one of our largest employers,” state Rep. Shelly Willingham, D-Edgecombe, said. “We’re excited about this new phase in their plan for growth. We know they’ll continue to thrive in Tarboro.”
The announcement comes approximately 3½ months after a celebration of the plant’s three decades in operation.
Sara Lee Frozen Bakery, which is based in the Chicago area, was formed in 2018 as a result of a sell-off by Arkansas-based Tyson Foods to a private equity firm, New York-based Kohlberg & Co.
The plant in Edgecombe County employs more than 650 people and produces a variety of frozen bakery and dessert products, including biscuits, brownies, cheesecake, croissants, muffins and pound cakes.
The Sara Lee brand can be traced to the 1950s, when Charlie Lubin, a bakery entrepreneur, decided to name his new line of cheesecakes after his daughter.
The statement from the Commerce Department said $500,000 from the One North Carolina Fund is going to help pay for the expansion of the plant in Edgecombe County.
The fund provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and to create jobs.
And this hardly the first time the plant has been the scene of a major investment.
In early 2016, Tyson subsidiary Hillshire Brands announced plans to upgrade and improve the location, creating an additional 98 jobs. The One North Carolina Fund also helped pay for that project.
And in 2000, the Telegram reported the plant was undergoing a $35 million renovation and expansion.
Sara Lee Frozen Bakery has two other plants. One is in Michigan and the other is in Massachusetts.