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.