Wells' Dairy has sold its St. George, Utah plant to a financial entity and then leased the facility from the new owner. The company told the Sioux City Journal the sale will not affect operations at the 160,000-sq ft plant.

"It's purely a financial decision,'' said Lesley Bartholomew. "It just frees up cash so we can invest back in the business." The planned sale to Sun Trust Inc. was scheduled to take effect on July 1. Bartholomew said Wells' will sign a 30-year lease, with an option to buy back the facility after it expires.

The arrangement, she said, is similar to Wells' lease for its new corporate headquarters in Le Mars, Iowa. The $30 million corporate offices and research campus is currently under construction. The corporate campus, which will be home to some 550 employees, will be leased from the Le Mars Business and Initiative Corp.

The St. George plant, which opened in 2003, produces packaged ice cream that's distributed to western states. It's Wells' first ice cream plant outside Le Mars, where the family-run company got its start in 1913.