Chr. Hansen details plans for $25 million expansion in West Allis

Will lead to 25-30 new jobs

Mike McNello, Chr. Hansen director of global operations, gestures to where the expanded facility will go up.
Mike McNello, Chr. Hansen director of global operations, gestures to where the expanded facility will go up.

Last updated on November 21st, 2019 at 12:46 pm

Global bioscience company Chr. Hansen Inc. is planning to soon begin demolition work to make way for a 20,000-square-foot, $25 million expansion at its North American headquarters in West Allis.

Company officials announced the expansion plans Wednesday at its facility at 9015 W. Maple St. They said the project would result in about 25 to 30 new jobs within the next couple of years.

Specifically, Chr. Hansen’s food culture’s and enzymes facility would be expanded west of the existing building footprint. To make way, the company will within the next couple of weeks begin demolishing the former Knights of Columbus building located directly west of the facility and east of South 92nd Street. Demolition work will continue through the rest of the year.

The company will then break ground on the facility expansion in April or May, with construction finishing by the end of 2020. Production will be fully underway there by mid-2022.

Mike McNello, Chr. Hansen director of global operations, said the expansion will add fermentation capacity similar to its existing cultures plant. It will also add warehouse space.

“That is going to fuel our growth for our bacterial strains, mostly for dairy, cheese, wine, and a little for animal health,” he said.

What’s more, the company could potentially expand even further if business continues to grow. McNello noted there is a section of green space to the east of the facility that could serve as another location for an additional expansion.

Chr. Hansen last year demolished a number of vacant apartment buildings in order to clear the way for the possible expansion.

The company could receive funding from the city to assist in its expansion efforts.

Patrick Schloss, West Allis community development manager, said the city will consider creating a developer-funded tax incremental financing district.

For the planned $25 million expansion the company could receive up to $1.5 million if the tax-financing district were created, Schloss said. The expansion has an estimated taxable value of around $5 million, he added.

The company could receive even more financing assistance from the city if it were to eventually move forward with another expansion.

“We welcome the opportunity to build a private partnership to create a successful business partner in West Allis, and we look forward to providing the necessary tools for today’s expansion as you continue to compete with a global market,” West Allis Mayor Dan Devine said.

Schloss said next week the city’s Community Development Authority will consider a development agreement with Chr. Hansen.

Chr. Hansen was founded in Denmark in 1874. Its U.S. operations started up in 1878 in New York before moving to West Allis in 1929. The company has more than 3,700 employees worldwide, including 430 in the U.S. and about 290 in West Allis.

Jim Holliday, vice president of animal health and area country manager of North America for Chr. Hansen, said the company provides ingredients in the agricultural industry for both plant and animal health. It also produces cultures and enzymes that turns milk into yogurt and cheese. It also has a division that provides natural colors for beverages, confections and prepared foods.

“It’s said that more than one billion people every day are consuming a food that has a Chr. Hansen ingredient in it,” he said.

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Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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