Kraft exceeds Kirksville hiring targets

A sign that reads "KIRKSVILLE MISSOURI Kraft Oscar Meyer" outside the Kraft Heinz facility in Kirksville.
Kraft Heinz opened almost 500 jobs at their Kirksville plant, well over the 69 estimated in its 2016 expansion announcement.

Kirksville’s Kraft Heinz production plant has hired several hundred more people than originally estimated in its 2016 expansion announcement.

When starting the expansion project, the company had about 463 employees and estimated the expansion would create 69 new jobs. The company now has a total of about 900 jobs, meaning since their announcement, Kraft Heinz has added almost 500 jobs.

City Manager Mari Macomber said the company is hiring people for almost every position level, including support staff, maintenance workers and line staff, though the majority are involved in the manufacturing process. The company is drawing applicants from Kirksville as well as surrounding counties in Northeast Missouri through an online application and interview process.

“With people at work, people getting paid more money, they are going to be able to afford more things, and hopefully they support more local businesses,” Macomber said.

K-REDI director Carolyn Chrisman said Kraft Heinz also increased the wages of starting workers from $11.95 to $14.95 per hour as of July. She said this will increase the median income of Kirksville and the surrounding area.

Chrisman said as Kraft Heinz was filing paperwork with the state, they might have undercut employment estimates to avoid repercussions for not meeting the agreed-upon goals. She said although Missouri does not necessarily impose any repercussions, it is a standard business practice.

“A lot of companies do not want to over-promise and under-deliver — they would rather under-promise and over-deliver,” Chrisman said. “I think all along Kraft knew they were probably going to hire more than that, but they didn’t know by how much.”

Chrisman said Kirksville will see a return on their investment to keep Kraft Heinz. Kirksville issued chapter 100 bonds to help the company with their expansion, but these costs were incurred by Kraft Heinz, not the city. She said the city probably spent a couple hundred thousand dollars on this project in total, but throughout the course of this project, what will be returned in tax dollars and increased wages will more than make up for what was spent.