Frito-Lay plans $130M plant in Osceola across from Poinciana SunRail station

One of the world's largest snack food companies outlined plans on Monday to build a $130 million plant in Osceola County across from the Poinciana SunRail station.

Frito-Lay is planning to construct a 286,000-square-foot, high-tech service facility to be completed in 2021. The automated distribution plant would employee 200 people. 

The investment encompasses an estimated $40 million for the building and $90 million in tools and equipment. Frito-Lay would pay 150 percent of the county's average wage.

"We've been working on this for the last year and a half," Osceola's Economic Development Manager Christina Morris told County Commissioners on Monday. 

The company is not seeking Qualified Target Industry (QTI) job tax-credit incentives, but Osceola Commissioners are expected to vote in the coming weeks on the county's first-ever tax abatement.

Frito-Lay has requested an abatement for up to 10 years, according to the county. The tax incentive would not apply to the value of the land, which has until now enjoyed an agricultural exemption.

Kathy Alfano, senior director for economic development for parent company PepsiCo, told commissioners on Monday the company considered more than 10 locations in Florida for the new facility. The company's positive relationship with Osceola County strengthend the county's bid, and the tax abatement sealed the deal, she said. 

"It’s nice to see that there’s a great partnership, and you want us as much as we want to be here," she said.

The company also was swayed by the site's proximity to SunRail station, which PepsiCo sees as a great amenity for its employees.

Frito-Lay makes some of the most popular snacks available in the marketplace today. These include Lay’s and Ruffles potato chips, Doritos tortilla chips, Cheetos snacks, Tostitos tortilla chips and branded dips, Sun Chips multigrain snacks and Fritos corn chips.  

The company operates more than 30 manufacturing plants across the U.S. and Canada and employs 57,000 people. Eleven of those plants have an automated distribution center like the one that will be built on Poinciana Boulevard beginning in 2019.

"It really helps grow sales and solve network issues," Alfano said.

Quaker Foods, another PepsiCo division, bought the 75-acre parcel where Frito-Lay now plans its new facility back in 2007 for $9 million, and filed a Site Development Plan that year for a 506,000-square-foot central distribution facility that was never built. 

The parent company already has a large presence in the Poinciana Industrial Park, with a Gatorade plant just north of U.S. 17-92 that employs 150 people and operates 24/7.

"This is will be the first place where we have Gatorade and Frito-Lay facility co-located, so it's kind of a unique thing and it's good for the employees, as well," Alfano added.

PepsiCo has not determined yet how many shifts will operate at the Frito-Lay facility. The property will be transferred from the Quaker division to a subsidiary of the Global Snacks division.

Frito-Lay's Orlando manufacturing plant began operations in 1965 and employs more than 370 full-time workers.  

The Frito-Lay target property is across from a proposed Transit-Oriented mixed-use development by AV Homes. County planners have asked the homebuilder to revise a site plan for its "Solstice" community to add high-density housing.  

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