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Hilmar Cheese expanding to Kansas
Hilmar cheese
The Hilmar Cheese Company's Visitor Center draws thousands of tourists to California each year, and now the business will soon have fans in Kansas thanks to a cheese and whey protein facility expansion set to be built in Dodge City (ANGELINA MARTIN/The Journal).

Hilmar Cheese Company, Inc. is expanding once again — this time, to Kansas. 

The company on Wednesday announced its decision to build a new state-of-the-art cheese and whey protein processing plant in Dodge City, Kansas, which will create 247 new jobs in the state and represents a $460 million capital investment. 

Hilmar Cheese Company CEO and President David Ahlem said Dodge City was an “ideal choice” given its central location, existing infrastructure, proximity to the growing local dairy industry and business-friendly climate.

The business considers itself a leader in sustainable practices, adopting the U.S. Dairy Stewardship Commitment and goal to achieve a Net Zero dairy industry by 2050. The new facility in Kansas will showcase sustainable solutions Hilmar Cheese has implemented.

“We want our plant to be as good for the environment as it will be for the local economy,” Ahlem said. “We’ll use technologies and sustainable practices to promote carbon neutrality.”

The new facility is set to break ground this summer and be completed by 2024, serving as Hilmar Cheese’s third location across three states. The company’s original location was founded in Hilmar in 1984, and a production facility in Dalhart, Texas was added in 2007. Hilmar Cheese built a milk powder facility in Turlock in 2015, but sold it to Visalia-based California Dairies, Inc. just four years later.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly applauded the Central Valley company’s decision to build in Dodge City, which is expected to bring an additional $550 million in capital investment and 750 new jobs within a 50-mile radius by late 2023.

“Hilmar’s decision to invest in Dodge City will truly be transformational for Southwest Kansas, and I am thrilled to welcome this world-class company to our state,” Kelly said. “Dodge City and Southwest Kansas are perfect for this new facility because of its proximity to high-quality producers and a top-notch workforce. It’s great to see another major food manufacturer recognizing the benefits of locating in Kansas, and I’m grateful to Hilmar for putting their trust in our state as the best place for their investment.”

The new facility will help Hilmar Cheese meet the growing demand of its customers in over 50 countries and the marketplace for cheese and whey products worldwide. In addition to job creation, the plant will create opportunities for the Dodge City community, promote growth for Kansas dairy producers and help Hilmar Cheese fulfill its purpose to improve lives, the company said.

“We greatly appreciate the warm welcome from the State of Kansas and the City of Dodge City officials whose values of integrity and excellence closely align with ours,” Ahlem said. “Dodge City gives us many opportunities including a local and skilled labor force, a supportive and expanding agricultural region and an excellent transportation network that allows us to easily reach our expanding markets.

“We’re really happy with our decision and excited about becoming a part of this outstanding community.”