CENTER – A newly recently completed expansion of the Idaho Pacific Colorado potato dehydration operation in Center has nearly doubled the plant’s production of potato flakes and flour – and added 35 new full-time jobs to the local workforce. The company now has 133 full-time employees.
“We are very excited about the expansion, and the positive economic impact our business will have on the local economy,” said Todd Sutton, the company’s vice president of operations.
In the addition to the company’s existing business, the expansion positively affects the area economy through the purchase of supplies, materials and services from local businesses, and the purchase of nearly 200 million pounds of raw potatoes from area farms.
Idaho Pacific Colorado invested approximately $6 million in the project, which includes state-of-the-art technology in dehydrated potato flakes and flour manufacturing, and water treatment.
“The new technology will keep our business competitive with our global competition, and will allow our products to continue to be marketed world-wide,” said Tim Ruggles, manager of the plant. “The San Luis Valley is a perfect location for our business due to the quantity and quality of potatoes grown by the local farming operations. We are proud to be a part of the local potato industry.”
Included in the project was funding from San Luis Valley Development Resources Group to expand the water treatment facility. “We appreciate the support of the San Luis Valley Resources Development group, which helped make the expansion possible,” noted Sutton.
The potato dehydration process includes sorting, steam peeling, slicing, cooking, and mashing raw potatoes that are than applied to large drum rollers that dry the cooked potatoes to a moisture content of six to nine percent. The dried potatoes come off the drum rollers in a thin sheet that looks like paper. The product is then ground to specific granulations, screened and packaged in sizes ranging from a 22-pound bag up to a 2,000-pound supersack.
Idaho Pacific Colorado Corporation has owned and operated the potato dehydration plant in Center since 2001. The business manufactures dehydrated potato flakes and potato flour that are used as ingredients in snack foods, bakery items, soups and stews, retail products for instant mashed potatoes, and in restaurants and cafeterias for mashed potatoes and potato side dishes.
Caption: Tim Ruggles, left, plant manager for Idaho Pacific Colorado Corp. at the company’s potato dehydration plant in Center, and Todd Sutton, right, vice president of operations at IPCC, provide a tour of the company’s expanded plant to Lee Swenson, center, senior advisor on Colorado Rural Policy to U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet.