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Kapstone spends millions on expansion

A twin box splitter machine operates Wednesday at Kapstone Container Corporation in Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS — With a max speed of 1,500 feet per minute, a $12 million corrugator is Kapstone’s newest piece of equipment — and the pinnacle of its largest capital project in 58 years.

Kapstone Container Corp. is just wrapping up its five-year plan to do some major upgrades at its 400,000 square-foot plant. In the past year alone, the company has spent about $25 million, General Manager David Crawford said.

“It was almost a $30 million investment over the past two years,” he said. “We’ve been running at or near capacity for about four to five years.”

But as Amazon’s western distribution centers increase their demand for boxes and local manufacturing companies expand their capacities, Kapstone Container Corp. also needed to catch up. Kapstone makes boxes for food producers such as Chobani, Clif Bar and Glanbia.

“Boxes are really a staple of the economy,” Crawford said. “As the customers have grown, we’ve grown with them.”

Kapstone employs 130 people at its Twin Falls plant on South Park Avenue West. This latest expansion  was expected to create a handful of jobs, as well as secure some of those positions for the future.

Manufacturing is on the rise around the Magic Valley. According to the Idaho Department of Labor, between 2016 and 2017 manufacturing-based employment for the eight counties of south-central Idaho grew 4.7 percent. It’s up 25.4 percent for the past 10 years, with average employment in 2017 at 10,252.

Wages are also increasing. Between 2016 and 2017, the average annual wage in manufacturing jobs grew 2.7 percent to $47,298. That’s a 32.4 percent increase from 2007.

Meanwhile, over the past year alone, manufacturers all around the Magic Valley have announced significant expansions. These combined are expected to create hundreds of jobs and total hundreds of millions of dollars invested in local facilities.

Here’s what we know so far about how those expansions are going.

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