It was a groundbreaking day on the Opportunity Corridor in more ways than one Wednesday.
Around 100 people gathered at the intersection of the corridor and East 75th Street to mark the beginning of construction for the 156,000 sq. ft. Cleveland Cold Storage, which will be occupied by Orlando Baking Company.
The significance goes far beyond one building or business, however. The first major construction on the Opportunity Corridor is a catalyst for the neighborhood and job creation throughout the region. It’s an investment in the city, and people.
“This will increase access into the emerging food ecosystem and create job density,” said Mayor Justin Bibb in his opening remarks.
The facility will position the region’s $3 billion food industry for additional growth. The project is supported with a JobsOhio $2 million Ohio Site Inventory Program.
Discussions about the need for such a freezer facility started years ago between John A. Orlando; Nick Pacitti, a 40-year veteran of the food industry; and CBRE executive Howard Lichtig. From there, a team including JobsOhio, Team NEO, Project Management Consultants, the city of Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County worked with Weston developers to help bring the project to fruition.
Ward Five councilman Richard Starr praised the creation of at least 70 new jobs in the area. Orlando already has more than 300 workers in its facility across the street at 7777 Grand Avenue, and plans to relocate employees from their existing cold storage facility in Columbus when the Cleveland location opens in June 2023.
Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Baiju Shah praised the collaborative effort that led to the groundbreaking, as well Orlando’s very long history in the city.
“They are a fifth-generation company,” said Shah. “They moved from Italy and found opportunity in Cleveland.”
The new facility will create opportunity for others, he noted. “This development … will bring opportunities to the residents of Cleveland. It’s an asset that can attract a greater food service business to the region.”
Cleveland Cold Storage will provide frozen storage, distribution and transportation services from local to international processors, grocers and distributors.
Orlando Baking Company President and CEO John A. Orlando emphasized his company’s long-term commitment to the Cleveland in his remarks.
“We have always believed in and been committed to the city. In 1979, we opened our headquarters in what was then the ‘forgotten triangle.’ In 1904, we first opened on Central Avenue. We believe in the city.” Orlando Baking Company can trace its roots back to 1872 in Italy.
Orlando noted that they are currently sending 6 to 8 trucks per day to Columbus, and having the local freezer facility will allow them keep that bread (and those jobs) local. “We are very excited about that.”
Developer Weston, one of the region’s largest privately held industrial property owners and developers, also has long ties to the city, of more than 30 years.
“The addition of this new facility reinforces the Northeast Ohio region’s opportunity to grow the region’s already robust food industry. With our strong logistics and talent pool, we have the resources to ensure continued success in the industry,” said Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO.
“Orlando Baking Company’s expansion demonstrates how Ohio is prepared to fill the growing need for cold food storage space in The United States,” said Terry Slaybaugh, JobsOhio Vice President of Sites and infrastructure. “The new refrigerated space will attract food processing companies and promote future development along the Opportunity Corridor.”