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New Lab Already Productive
April 11, 2013 (Scottsville, KY) by Matt Pedigo, C-T News Editor
A month after the Allen County Health Department moved to its new North Court Street location, just off Scottsville’s square, its former building on East Locust Street is already fulfilling another mission for public health.
Seattle-based IEH Laboratories & Consulting Group (IEH) is the building’s new occupant, and its food safety testing operation is already running at three-quarters capacity. It’s establishment here has already created eight jobs, and more are very likely.
“Within a couple of months, we want to have at least 12 to 14,” said IEH Director of Operations Andy Buschow, Noting that the facility is already running seven days a week, he added, “We want to run 24-seven.”
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development worked with the Allen County-Scottsville Industrial Development Authority and IEH in bringing this testing laboratory to Scottsville.
Allen County Economic Development/Allen County-Scottsville Industrial Development Authority Director Richie Sanders said the deal was a two-year process, with IEH informing him of its commitment decision over the New Year’s holiday this past January.
“We are very excited to become a part of the Scottsville community,” said IEH President Dr. Mansour Samadpour. “IEH prides itself on its analytical capabilities, providing companies with brand protection and consumers with the confidence they are feeding their families safe, wholesome food. IEH is also a critical partner in the production process, ensuring continuity and growth in the food production and distribution industry within Kentucky. We look forward to a long partnership.”
As noted in a press release issued Monday from the office of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D), IEH is a nationwide chain featuring 80 laboratories across the US, Canada and Mexico, all of which offer comprehensive safety testing and consulting services to the food industry.
“Even more than the jobs created, IEH is a company that helps make other companies better, and that benefit will mean even greater things down the road for Scottsville and the Commonwealth,” Beshear stated in the release. “The food and beverage industry in Kentucky continues to expand, and this is a step forward to assist the industry and grow the economy in the Commonwealth.”
Sanders noted that the IEH location was also made possible with the help of the Health Department and local public officials. When the ACHD began its remodelling process for the former Farmer’s National Bank headquarters building, it hadn’t anticipated moving in by March 4, as it did. The move was hastened through negotiations with the IDA. The ACHD’s main floor, which most of the public utilizes, was operational at the early moving date, though the remodelling is still ongoing in other portions of its new building. Sanders, joined by State Rep. Wilson Stone (D-22nd District) expressed gratitude for the cooperation of the ACHD in helping IEH establish here on time.
“Our region is well-regarded in the food and beverage industry, so IEH will certainly have no problem fitting in,” Stone said. “I’m proud that it chose our community, and that it will give new life to our former Health Department building. I want to thank our local and state officials for their work in helping to make this happen.”
“I welcome IEH and look forward to a long and productive relationship with our newest community partner,” added State Sen. David Givens, (R-Ninth District).
The Scottsville IEH is contracted with the J.M. Smucker Company for quick food safety testing of its Uncrustables® frozen sandwiches, Snack’N’Waffles® and other products. Technicians at IEH test products from Scottsville’s Smuckers plant for bacterial or chemical contamination, or any other toxicity that could render its food products unsafe for consumption.
As part of the process, the laboratory grows and studies related bacterial cultures. This is needed for perishable foods, which need much faster turnaround times. Buschow noted. The laboratories are safe as well, Buschow added—all are sterilized through heat or chemical before disposal.
While Smuckers is the new Scottsville laboratory’s principle customer for now, the IEH facility can serve others, and wants to offer its services to food-related companies throughout the region. Buschow said. He added that IEH is developing a courier service for samples and results for the Nashville/Louisville region. That versatility is a plus for possibly recruiting other related industries to the Allen County area, Sanders said.
“This is a great opportunity to reach out to other food companies,” he said. “To have this kind of food service in our area is unique.”
Allen Judge/Executive Johnny Hobdy agreed. “We are extremely excited that IEH Laboratories has chosen Scottsville and Allen County as the site of their new food testing laboratory,” he said. “This gives us a unique opportunity to become even more competitive in the food industry, as we strive to service existing industry and recruit new industry. The IDA and IEH have worked together for over two years to bring this project to this point, and are committed to making IEH and their decision one that they will be glad they made.”
Scottsville Mayor Rob Cline said IEH will also play a role in the City of Scottsville’s operations. “The city is honored and pleased to welcome IEH Laboratories,” Cline said. “Their presence will help our community with the testing of products to assure their safety, and also help Scottsville itself in the testing of our water and sewer treatments on a regular basis. We are thrilled to have IEH Laboratories become a part of our community, and wish them the best of luck in their new venture.”
Buschow said IEH facilities across the nation are very diverse in their testing matter; some handle soil samples or water quality, while others cover meat or other foods. “There’s not much we don’t do,” he said. Regardless of each laboratory’s specialty, IEH is an industry leader for the services it provides, Buschow said.
“Whenever you hear about a food recall, IEH probably got called to help with that,” Buschow said. He recalled a spinach contamination case that made national headlines in recent years. “I flew out to test the spinach in California.”
Kentucky is home to more than 265 facilities involved in manufacturing or support services for the food and beverage industry, employing more than 42,000 people, the Governor’s Office release noted. And this region is home to Western Kentucky University—another factor in the IEH decision, Buschow said. The company has been in touch with WKU biology professors, and intends to offer internships and on-site training.
Visits to the area were another factor, he added—IEH staff liked the Scottsville and Allen County area. For more information on IEH Laboratories, visit www.iehinc.com on the internet. Information on Kentucky’s economic development programs is available online at www.ThinkKentucky.com, or Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ThinkKentucky, or Twitter at www.Twitter.com/ThinkKentucky. For more on Scottsville’s economic growth, visit scottsvillegrowth.com.