PERRY — Georgia is welcoming Sasquatch, or at least the Wisconsin-based meat snack company that has adopted the furry creature as a mascot.
Jack Link's protein snacks announced Tuesday that it will build a $450 million factory in the middle Georgia town of Perry, hiring 800 people after it opens in late 2023. Link Snacks says it is the largest maker of protein snacks worldwide, making beef jerky and other meat snacks sold under its own name and other brands.
Gov. Brian Kemp and members of the Link family who own the Minong, Wisconsin, company, gathered with other officials Tuesday in a 120-acre (50-hectare) pecan orchard in Perry where the factory will be built.
Kemp said it's Georgia's largest economic development project outside metro Atlanta this year.
"When I ran for governor I promised to bring opportunities like this one we're celebrating today to all parts of our state, especially rural Georgia," said the Republican, who is seeking reelection and has opposition including former U.S. Senator David Perdue in the May 24 GOP primary. "Today is the latest fruit of our hard labor to create more jobs and opportunity for hardworking Georgians."
CEO Troy Link, the son of founder Jack Link, said the Georgia plant will be the largest his family's company has ever built.
"The Georgia facility is going to ensure that we continue to lead the protein snacking category with great innovation, and continue to grow with our customers, consumers and team members," Link said.
The company's Sasquatch mascot was on hand, part of its longrunning "Messin' With Sasquatch" campaign
"He's been wonderful for our business and we have lots of fun messin' with Sasquatch," Link said.
Kevin McAdams, the company's North American president, said Link Snacks considered more than 30 sites nationwide. McAdams said the company is hiring immediately for a plant manager, human relations manager, controller, food safety and quality director and plant engineer.
McAdams said the company also is doubling the size of its factory in Alpena, South Dakota, and adding onto facilities in Minong, Wisconsin, and Underwood, Iowa. Jack Link's also has facilities in Germany, New Zealand and Brazil.
Georgia will pay to train company workers, although a value for that incentive wasn't immediately available.
Link Snacks could claim various tax breaks, including an income tax credit allowing it to annually deduct $3,500 per job from state income taxes, up to $14 million over five years, as long as workers make at least $28,000 a year. If Jack Link's doesn't earn enough to owe that much in taxes, the state would give it personal income taxes from worker paychecks to make up the rest. The company could also get local property tax breaks.
State Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson said Jack Link's will add to Georgia's food industry.
"We have a fantastic food processing industry that is thriving," Wilson said. "Agriculture continues to be the backbone of the Georgia economy."