Blue Buffalo expanding in Indiana, $1.6 million incentive promised

Wilton-based Blue Buffalo announced May 31 that the pet food manufacturer is expanding onto 89 acres in Richmond, Indiana with a new plant, research and development facility, and warehouse.

The company, which will keep its headquarters in Wilton, plans to invest more than $100 million in the expansion that would create an estimated 160 full-time jobs, according to Blue Buffalo.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation is offering Blue Buffalo $1.6 million in conditional, performance-based tax credits for creating the jobs. Wayne County and the city of Richmond have OK’d further incentives.

With Connecticut in a state of fiscal distress, and General Electric’s headquarters move in the rearview, State Sen. Toni Boucher (R-26) issued a statement regarding Blue Buffalo’s decision to build elsewhere.

“Once again, our state’s fiscal policies have resulted in another company not expanding in Connecticut. The state has become numb to these types of announcements,” Boucher said.

“Years of turning a blind eye to the problems and proposing the same anti-job policies have pushed people to look elsewhere and chased jobs out of our state, and as a result, the middle and working classes are the ones who suffer,” she said.

Blue Buffalo CEO Kurt Schmidt said that multiple locations were considered for the new plant, but “the town of Richmond really impressed us.”

“The location of Richmond is ideal for Blue Buffalo, and this, coupled with the strong work ethic embedded here in Richmond, made this the perfect choice for us,” Schmidt said.

National media are saying Blue Buffalo was lured to Indiana by the Economic Development Corporation and the city of Richmond, but Boucher thinks otherwise.

“The package Indiana is offering is modest compared to the packages Connecticut has handed out in its system of choosing winners and losers,” Boucher said

“While Connecticut’s First Five program and special handouts have averaged a cost to the state of approximately $90,000 per job in loans and grants, Indiana’s package only has a potential for approximately $10,000 per job in performance-based tax credits — meaning the jobs have to be created first,” she said.

“What’s perhaps more attractive [there] is the potential to grow in an environment with less tax burdens and more reliability,” Boucher said.

Construction of Blue Buffalo’s new facility is expected to commence later this year. It will be the pet food producer’s second U.S. factory. The other is in Joplin, Mo.