Plant officials pleased with job-fair turnout

By Ryn Gargulinski: Freedom Newspapers

Southwest Cheese officials hope to have the bulk of their hiring done by the time the plant is scheduled to open in October. However, hiring will continue through the end of the year, according to Southwest President Maurice Keane.
The $200 million plant will employ 225 when fully operational, according to company officials, which would rank Southwest as the ninth-largest employer in Curry County.
More than 1,500 job-seekers showed up for a job fair at Clovis Community College last month. Keane said he was pleased with the turnout, but no preference will be given to local applicants.
Another 500 applied online, according to officials.
“It has confirmed for us that there are a lot of good applicants in the Clovis/Portales area,” Keane said. “We are selecting on the basis of the most suitable people for the job.”
Keane said management positions will be filled first because the position requires more training. He said the plant has currently filled 40 positions.
The plant will run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with employees working rotating shifts, Keane said. Salaries will range from $9.50 to $13 an hour for production positions, to $14 to $17 an hour for maintenance employees.
The plant’s annual payroll, including benefits, will be $6 million, city of Clovis officials have said.
The plant is expected to generate annual revenues of $45 million for the area and stimulate $239 million in local economic activity over 10 years, according to a Southwest Cheese press release.