Mezzetta may forget about American Canyon expansion

2011-09-15T00:00:00Z Mezzetta may forget about American Canyon expansionMICHAEL WATERSON Napa Valley Register
September 15, 2011 12:00 am  • 

One of the largest employers in American Canyon may be looking at an out-of-state expansion. 

G.L. Mezzetta, Inc., producer of glass-packed peppers, olives and other specialty foods, has been in negotiations with city officials regarding expansion and reportedly has received incentive offers from state governments on the east coast.

At the Sept. 6 city council meeting Susan Lane, American Canyon Chamber of Commerce president, and Sherry Tennyson, director of the American Canyon Family Resource Center urged city officials to do everything possible to keep the company entirely local.

Lane said that after speaking with company owner Jeff Mezzetta, the year-long negotiations with the city regarding water have diminished the chances for an expansion here.

American Canyon’s recently adopted zero water footprint policy makes businesses responsible for planning water usage before expanding.

“A year, as you know, is a very long time for a business.” said Lane.

Lane said the delay had “forced” the company to consider “very favorable and compelling” offers from the states of Virginia and South Carolina, while admitting: “It may already be too late (to get the expansion).”

Tennyson agreed the company was valuable, saying Mezzetta actively recruited local workers, a great asset for a city with the highest unemployment rate in the county. Losing the expansion could be “devastating” to the community she said.

City Manager Rich Ramirez said the city was actively negotiating with the family-operated firm.

“We are working with Mezzetta ... to try to find a way to encourage them to expand here,” said Ramirez

But Ramirez denied that the cost or availability of water was the primary consideration for the company’s choice of an expansion location.

“Water is a factor; it’s not a major factor,” said Ramirez. There are many elements of the company’s expansion beyond the city’s control according to Ramirez.

“Most of the decision has very little to do with city influence,” said Ramirez. “So much is outside our purview,” he said. The city manger said that larger issues include tax incentives and looser environmental regulations in other states. 

Ramirez emphasized that the company had no plans to relocate its headquarters, that future expansion is the only issue under discussion.

He said Mezzetta had added as many as 50 employees recently. The company employs about 300 people at it’s Mezzetta Court location off Green Island Road. 

In a subsequent telephone interview Lane agreed with Ramirez that water and the expansion location are separate issues.

“We realize there are many things (about the expansion) that have nothing to do with city,” Lane said. She said the point of her comments were to urge the city to do everything possible to get the expansion.

Like Ramirez, Lane wasn’t worried about losing the company’s presence here.

“The recognition of being in Napa Valley is something Mezzetta values,” Lane said.

Mezzetta spokesperson Sue Park said the company would be issuing a statement soon, but had no immediate comment. 

Mezzetta has been a strong community presence in American Canyon since moving here in the late 1990s, with a reputation as a caring employer actively involved in the community. In the past the company has provided on-site English and computer classes for employees in partnership with the county, as well as making regular donations to local nonprofit organizations and charitable causes.

Begun in San Francisco in the 1930s the company moved to Sonoma in 1980 and has been in American Canyon since 1997. 

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(13) Comments

  1. tramky
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    tramky - September 15, 2011 8:22 am
    This is the problem with California in a nutshell. This state is, quite simply, toxic for business. It is run by environmentalist nutcases who have been given authority to dominate the lives of Californians and determine the fate of commercial enterprises. And look at California, a dying wasteland with more crazy crap happening within its borders than any state in the nation.

    Governments in California have become essentially criminal enterprises, where theft of taxpayer money is now conducted in 'open' meetings, right before our eyes. The Brown Act provides a prime example of this.

    But the most alarming thing about this story is the water issue--this bodes very ill for American Canyon, for the water issue will adversely affect ANY business that thinks about AC as a location. A lack of water is simply a killer for business--and for people. This issue is SO huge that it should result in real action, but it will not.
  2. sunny
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    sunny - September 15, 2011 9:19 am
    If anyone hasn't tried their Napa Valley Bistro pasta sauces in a jar, they should. It is delicious!
  3. Tiredofcomplainingnapkins
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    Tiredofcomplainingnapkins - September 15, 2011 9:53 am
    TO Tramky,

    You blast environmentalist but then you talk about how the water and lack of it can be a killer for businesses and people. The number 1 issue environmentalist lobby for is clean and plentiful water, so I dont understand how you can blast them? THey are the driving force behind making sure water is safe and plentiful, so why are you blasting them?
  4. selim_sivad
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    selim_sivad - September 15, 2011 10:15 am
    I would politely disagree and say that their canned sauces are pretty bad; anyone can make better in a pinch for half the cost and only about 15 minutes more. You've gotta boil water for pasta anyway; spend that time on the sauce.

    What's more, their price point is too high; I can buy Mt.Olive pickled products for significantly less than Mezzetta, and Mt.Olive is from NC. There's some internal management or strategic direction that's at fault, not State or local costs.

    The zero water footprint policy is a red herring; you know what resources you are going to consume as part of your expansion. You know how much water you use as part of your operations, and you should know how much water your capital expansion (e.g. new equipment) will consume. We live in a State prone to drought so planning ahead is completely reasonable.

    But they can go ahead and move to SC...and then be bought out by Mt.Olive in a year's time, because clearly the Mezzetta management could be doing better.
  5. OK sooner
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    OK sooner - September 15, 2011 10:27 am
    I love Mezzetta's hot mix. Thinks for the heads up on them wanting to move. I will give the Ada Chamber of Commerce a copy of this story and see if they will come to Oklahoma. Our water is real pure and will help their product.
  6. cynik
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    cynik - September 15, 2011 11:08 am
    Keep taxing business california. Drive employers out of state. Get your finances together.
  7. JustAnotherManicMonday
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    JustAnotherManicMonday - September 15, 2011 1:41 pm
    Well, it sounds like they just want to move anyways and are using this water issue as an excuse.
  8. Mouse_Nose
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    Mouse_Nose - September 15, 2011 2:54 pm
    The title of this article should've been, "Mezzetta may forgetta about American Canyon expansion"

    Don't forgetta Mezzetta!
  9. glenroy
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    glenroy - September 15, 2011 3:19 pm
    Well Double Duh…. This state ran off tens of thousands of jobs, most high paying skill jobs in large part mandating lover healthcare benefits, the county just awarded AMR a contract that is roughly $70,000,000.00 more than Piners bid Piner is the better service provider, the assessors office isn’t even close to reducing property taxes to current market values, the sanitation dept is virtually out of control only challenged by the water dept…county and city budgets are hostage to the public employee unions...

    There isn't any management in at the state level or the county and very little at the city... spend like intoxicated sailors on shore leave.

    It is sickening what they've done to this state.

    And then.... liberals wonder why businesses want out of their ponzi scam?
  10. napaapan
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    napaapan - September 16, 2011 8:11 am
    Perfect example of how CA is killing business and jobs.
    You think we are in trouble now, keep up this trend for another 10 years and see where we are...

  11. ohreally
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    ohreally - September 16, 2011 11:16 am
    It saddens me when companies circumvent the will of the people or at least try to negotiate circumvention. shame. If they do not wish to be good corporate citizens, in the community that they are in, go elsewhere and good riddance. I wish the community that they go to good luck.
  12. napaapan
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    napaapan - September 16, 2011 1:38 pm
    ohreally, that mindset will loose us 300 more jobs at Mezzetta when they move to an enviornment more upen to job creation, not to mention local suppliers will loose business and likely need to cut staff. There will be no jobs left for "the people" with this mindset.

    Frankly we should applaud Mezzetta for trying to work with the City on the issues limiting their expansion and creation of additional local jobs. This expansion is essential for them to compete and grow long term, it's sad city officials can't find a way to make it work. Sad...

  13. me2you
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    me2you - September 17, 2011 12:31 pm
    Just wondering if anyone has applied for a position with this company, well I did and had an interview. I UNDERSTAND why they aren't doing well.
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