team effort, lead by the Port of Walla Walla, has resulted in
the opening of a major juice processing plant in Walla Walla.
nation’s largest independent private label juice processor,
Cliffstar Corporation, has moved into the former Agri-Frozen Foods
Plant and has its first 20 full-time employees in training. Gene
Bailen, Cliffstar’s vice president of operations, said the
plant’s first production will ship beginning in November.
said the new Walla Walla plant will begin processing what he called
“We’ll start with apple, grape and cranberry juice
blends before moving on to more sophisticated varieties.”
Initially, Cliffstar will bring juice concentrates to Walla Walla
from existing suppliers, although Bailen suggested the possibility
of developing relationships with local vendors sometime in the
in Dunkirk, N.Y., Cliffstar packages private label juices for
grocery stores, mass merchandisers, food service companies and
major retailers in the United States and Canada. In addition to
the Walla Walla facility, the firm has operating plants in Dunkirk;
Joplin, Missouri; Greer, South Carolina; and Fontana, California.
Manager Shannon McFall explained that shipments from the Walla
Walla site will go to customers within a 500 mile radius, including
Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia.
Walla County Commissioner Dave Carey, Cliffstar owner Stanley
A. Star, Port District Commission President Fred Bennett
and City of Walla Walla Mayor Jerry Cummins celebrate Cliffstar’s
announcing a new juice processing plant in Walla Walla.
Cliffstar juices, including apple and cranberry blends,
are processed for private label retailers across the United
States and Canada
said that while the start-up crew will consist of 20 full-time
staff members, she expects a second wave of activity to include
another processing line and 20 additional employees beginning
in January, 2003. The total number of jobs could climb to 100
within two to three years.
all started when a consultant for Cliffstar Corporation surfed
the internet, found www.portwallawalla.com,
and discovered a potential building for a new juice processing
plant in the Northwest.
months later, the Port of Walla Walla announced that the former
AgriFrozen Foods facility, on Dell Avenue, would be the new location
for the New York based, private label processor.
Executive Director Jim Kuntz called the Cliffstar decision a “major
economic development success.”
new companies to rural communities is a real challenge,”
Sean P. McGirr,
Cliffstar’s president, said the availability of the AgriFrozen
Food building and the favorable economic development package offered
by the Port of Walla Walla and other community groups were factors
that influenced the company’s choice to locate in Walla
purchased the closed AgriFrozen Foods building, funded necessary
improvements, then leased the building to Cliffstar, giving the
firm an option to buy.
the Port’s total investment will exceed $1.6 million.
to the Port of Walla Walla commitment, Team Walla Walla, a public/private
development partnership, provided $35,000 and Fluor Hanford added
$15,000 to help offset Cliffstar’s costs associated with
the opening of the Walla Walla plant.
“The positive reception we received from the Port, Team
Walla Walla, Fluor Hanford, Walla Walla County, the City of Walla
Walla and Walla Walla Community College convinced us that Walla
Walla is a good place to do business.”
Bill Clemens, president of Team Walla Walla, said,
“Creating new family wage jobs has been our organization’s
focus since its inception. Cliffstar, with its year around employment
opportunities, will strengthen Walla Walla’s economy.”
Jerry Schneider, manager of Fluor Hanford Asset
Transition, added, “Assisting the Walla Walla community
in recruiting Cliffstar is part of our ongoing commitment to diversify
the region’s economy.”