Construction of MWC, a large dairy and cheese processing plant partnership of Glanbia Nutritionals, Dairy Farmers of America (DFA) and Select Milk Producers Inc., is still on track to begin operations this fall, the Lansing State Journal reported.
Martha Kavanagh, a spokesperson for Glanbia, told the news outlet that the project's budget hasn’t been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, although she did say "some delays" occurred at the site in the St. Johns, Mich., industrial park. "It’s on time and on plan, is what I’m told," Kavanagh said.
While the operation's construction did experience some delays in March because of supplier disruptions, Kavanagh said the project has been ahead of schedule in other areas.
The cheese processing building at the site is standing, Kavanagh reported, with more than 95% of the project's major equipment in place.
"Virtually all of it will be set by the middle of June," she told the journal, adding that work is still being done inside the building.
"Final utility connections to process equipment will continue through the summer, as will detailed checkout of electrical connections and control systems," Kavanagh said. "Specific areas will be cleaned beginning in late June in anticipation of the planned October startup."
With an estimated 75-325 workers at the site every day, she said a "COVID-19 Site Protection Plan" is currently in place that mandates that workers wear masks, social distance and submit to temperature checks. Additionally, a "dedicated cleaning crew of 10-15 people" wipes down commonly used surfaces.
The $470 million project will include a facility that will process 8 million lb. of milk per day into a range of cheese (135,000 metric tons per year) and whey products for U.S. and international markets, employing approximately 250 staff at full production. Proliant Dairy Ingredients has also invested an additional $85 million to build an adjoining facility that will process the whey permeate from the MWC facility.