The Joint Economic Development Organization of Topeka, Kansas, USA, voted unanimously on February 11 to approve “Project Blue Sky,” which will offer incentives of up to US$166,760 to Big Heart Pet Brands to expand its petfood production plant in the city.

The expansion of the plant, which manufactures Meow Mix, Gravy Train, Milk-Bone Brushing Chews and 9Lives brands, is expected to cost as much as US$42.3 million, according to a report.

The expansion would add a 70,000-square-foot packaging plant. Big Heart says expansion and renovation would enable it to retain 20 jobs it otherwise would likely lose, and to hire eight to 12 new employees.

The incentive measure allows Big Heart to receive an incentive based on the amount it invests into the facility, with the maximum incentive being US$84,760 for an investment of US$42.3 million or more. The measure also allows Big Heart to receive incentives of up to US$82,000 for retaining and adding positions.

This month, the J.M. Smucker Company (Smucker's) announced that it would acquire Big Heart Pet Brands for US$5.8 billion, including US$2.6 billion of net debt. The purchase marks Smucker's entrance into the petfood and snacks category and expands its overall presence in consumer packaged goods. The acquisition will provide Smucker's greater scale and strategic balance to its current portfolio while positioning it for continued growth, according to the company. Under the terms of the agreement, Smucker's will acquire all of the outstanding equity of Big Heart Pet Brands.