McKee Foods Announces Major Investment and Expansion of Collegedale Operations

By Chattanooga Chamber

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bob Rolfe announce today that McKee Foods Corporation, the makers of Little Debbie Snacks, Drake’s Cakes and other snack foods, will undergo a major expansion in Collegedale.

Over a 15-year period, McKee Foods has agreed to invest more than $500 million in capital projects, including expansion of the Apison Plant to include new production lines, and additional investment in its other Collegedale facilities. The company has also committed to 125 new jobs created in the first seven years of the project. Over the course of the entire project, the company expects to create 480 new jobs. McKee Foods employs about 3,000 people in its Tennessee operations today.

“McKee Foods is a legacy company in our community and a critical part of our region’s entrepreneurial history. The jobs McKee creates as part of this project will impact families in Hamilton County and the City of Collegedale for years to come as they continue to invest in our community,” said Charles Wood, Vice President of Economic Development at the Chattanooga Chamber.

“I am extremely excited to learn about the initial announcement of 125 new jobs at McKee Foods, a number that will grow to 482 over the next 15 years,” said Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger. “McKee is one of the great Hamilton County legacy companies and we could not be happier that they chose their hometown to make this significant expansion and investment that will help grow Hamilton County.”

The initial 5-year outlay is approximately $225 million. Of this amount, $110 million is set to more than double the current size of the Apison Plant and add the first new production line. This will be the fourth major expansion of this facility. Work will be completed in phases with the first phase commencing in the summer of 2020.

“McKee Foods is very pleased that we are able to bring more jobs and more bakery capacity to our Hamilton County operations,” said Mike McKee, McKee Foods Corporation President & CEO. “Our family business is blessed to have such deep roots in Southeast Tennessee — a region where thoughtful infrastructure investment is being made while maintaining a keen eye on livability and workability for our employees and surrounding communities. As always, we appreciate partnering with the City of Collegedale, Hamilton County and the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee Valley Authority and EPB as we expand our Collegedale Operations.”

Since 2015, the Chattanooga Chamber has assisted with new business locations and expansions totaling more than $1.5 billion in investments and over 6,000 jobs.


State and Community Leaders Congratulate McKee

“I’m grateful for McKee Foods’ ongoing commitment to Tennessee as they continue to create high-quality jobs and drive economic activity. Thousands of Tennesseans have contributed to the success of McKee Foods and its world-renowned products. I’m pleased to see such a storied Tennessee brand move forward with this considerable expansion in Collegedale.” – Governor Bill Lee

“Tennessee is home to some of the world’s most respected food brands, none greater than Little Debbie Snacks and McKee Foods. We’ve sought to create a business-friendly environment that ensures our existing Tennessee companies can prosper and thrive. McKee Foods has called Collegedale and Hamilton County home for generations, and this considerable investment promises to ensure its prominent role in Southeast Tennessee continues for generations to come.” – TNECD Commissioner Bob Rolfe

“McKee Baking is an important part of Collegedale. We are grateful that the company has chosen to continue their investment in our city with a significant expansion of their facilities. We are excited for the new opportunities and the jobs that this growth will create.” – Collegedale Mayor Katie Lamb

“TVA and EPB congratulate McKee Foods on its decision to expand operations in Chattanooga and create hundreds of new job opportunities. It’s always an exciting day when an existing company is committed to continuing growth in the Valley and we are pleased to partner with the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce and Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development to celebrate this announcement.” - John Bradley, Senior Vice President of Economic Development, TVA

“McKee has been a mainstay of the local area for more than 90 years. We feel fortunate to serve our community by supporting McKee as they continue innovate, invest and create jobs.” - David Wade, President & CEO, EPB


About McKee Foods

McKee Foods, a family bakery with annual sales of about $1.4 billion, is a privately-held company based in Collegedale, Tenn. The McKee Foods story began during the height of the Great Depression when founder O.D. McKee began selling 5-cent snack cakes from the back of his car. Soon after, he and his wife, Ruth, bought a small bakery on Main Street in Chattanooga, Tenn., using the family car as collateral. Today, the company employs more than 6,000 people in Collegedale, Tenn.; Gentry, Ark.; Stuarts Draft, Va.; and Kingman, Ariz. It creates and produces Little Debbie® baked goods, Drake’s® cakes, Sunbelt Bakery® snacks and cereals and Fieldstone® Bakery food products. Visit mckeefoods.com for more information.