Hispanic Cheese Makers-Nuestro Queso said it is celebrating a significant expansion at its facility in Kent, Ill. The $15 million investment includes new processing and packaging equipment, expanded cooler space and additional capacity to meet demand for further expansion in the future.

The expansion project was needed to meet increased demand for the Chicago-based company’s high-quality Mexican, Caribbean and Central American cheeses and cremas. The project is the latest phase of a comprehensive strategic investment plan that began two years ago when Hispanic Cheese Makers developed its long-term sustainability initiatives and related investments, the company said. This new expansion project will provide upgrades to its processing and packaging lines to improve operational efficiencies, add capacity and further improve food safety.

In addition to significant modifications to the plant’s existing facility, the company is adding a significant amount of new cooler space and blast cooling capabilities. This expansion phase will address bottlenecks of cooler space for finished goods, Hispanic Cheese Makers said. The separate cooler space allows the company to work on the upgrades without disrupting operations — though by the project’s end, the facilities will be connected. The company also will be adding additional loading docks and has made investments in the land around its facility for future expansion.

Despite it being a challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hispanic Cheese Makers said it felt it was important to make this investment, as its plant expansion will benefit the local economy at a time at which most companies are scaling back.

“We are committed to our employees and are very thankful for their efforts during this COVID-19 epidemic,” Mark Braun, CEO, said.

The company will hold a ground-breaking ceremony on Oct. 30 at its Kent, Ill.,plant.