Louisville Water’s “Liquid Assets” boost economic development throughout the region
Asked why House Foods America chose to build their first Midwest production facility in Louisville, a company representative replied, “Louisville’s water stood out during our site selection process of considering numerous factors for over a dozen cities.”
The setting for this conversation was a reception and dinner in July. Representatives from Louisville Water Company, other utilities, and economic development organizations welcomed House Foods’ executives to Louisville — including President Tsuyoshi Kido — and discussed the company’s plans to build its facility at the Louisville Riverport Authority.
The meeting was the culmination of more than six months of work that involved a team of Louisville Water employees working with the city and the state to meet with House Foods representatives and host them at Louisville Water offices, where they learned that the city has some of the highest quality water in North America. They discovered that the water, branded Louisville Pure Tap™, not only earns accolades from residential customers but also meets a wide range of business and industrial needs.
Great Water Brings a Great Company
House Foods produces and sells a line of tofu nationwide that includes premium, organic, convenience, and specialty products. The quality of Louisville Water’s product meets many of their highly specific needs.
According to Project Manager Hiromasa “Hunt” Takahashi, “Water is a critical part of tofu production in House Foods America because our tofu is primarily made with only three ingredients: soybeans, coagulant, and water. That is why we were carefully investigating the water quality during the site selection process of our new facility.”
Takahashi said there were three main considerations:
- Stability of the water supply — “Tofu is a delicate product that can easily be affected by the water quality through changes in firmness and texture,” Takahashi said. “It is promising to know that the water supplied from the Louisville Water Company has a single source, the Ohio River, where we can expect consistency.”
- Hardness — “Water hardness is a factor we control in our production process. We soften our water prior to use, and harder water requires more time and cost to soften to our requirements. The Louisville Water Company will be able to supply relatively softer water which we believe may lessen the adjustment process.”
- Taste — “Although it is subjective, we think water also affects the taste of tofu. We had the opportunity to taste the water provided by the Louisville Water Company and can say that it tasted great! We can proudly make tofu of the best quality knowing that we use water the Louisville Water Company takes pride in providing.”
Promoting Louisville’s Liquid Assets
House Foods’ decision to locate in Louisville highlights the link between water and a growing economy. Louisville Water strives to strengthen this link through a range of economic development efforts.
“Louisville Pure Tap™ is directly linked to more than 24,000 businesses in the region,” said Kelley Dearing Smith, Louisville Water’s Vice President of Communications & Marketing and the company’s team lead in working on economic development. “We’re proud to have House Foods America as a customer and appreciate their recognition of the value of our water.”
A team of Louisville Water employees developed a Liquid Assets economic development platform that builds the company’s brand, highlights advantages in terms of quality and rates, and develops strategic partnerships that let others share the company’s story.
Business prospects might begin their Louisville Water experience when they notice drinking fountains and water bottle refill stations branded with the company’s logo at the Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport. The prospects may receive a branded reusable water bottle during a local visit and will likely drink Pure Tap in a conference room — maybe as they hear about the water’s outstanding quality from a local business or state official.
Louisville Water also supports and participates in economic development tours, conferences, and special events with such organizations as Greater Louisville Inc., Louisville Forward, KentuckyUnited, and the Greater Louisville Regional Partnership.
Economic development is even part of Louisville Water’s Strategic Business Plan, and the company has expanded efforts nationally through its Liquid Assets initiative. As with House Foods, when businesses are looking for a location for their headquarters or a large facility, Louisville Water points out that it already has infrastructure in place to reliably deliver all the high-quality water they need.
Focusing on Food and Drink
Even before House Foods announced plans to build a facility at Riverport, Louisville Water counted several companies in the food and beverage sector among its top 100 commercial customers. In 2020, there were eight in the utility’s service area, including Royal Crown Bottling Company, Bakery Chef, and Paradise Tomato Kitchen.
There are also more than a dozen distilleries in the service area, and several others use Pure Tap through the company’s wholesale operations. Louisville Water plays an especially important role in Kentucky’s signature drink because the water’s great taste supports the flavor of bourbon whether it’s part of the distilling process or added as a few drops of water or as a rock in a drink when enjoying it. Besides, water is the only ingredient that can be added to bourbon once it leaves a barrel and goes into a bottle, so in this way, Louisville’s water is enjoyed by millions worldwide.
Louisville Water employees are excited to add House Foods to the list of food and beverage customers and look forward to meeting their specific needs well into the future. Their Louisville facility includes a $146.3 million investment. It will bring 109 full-time jobs. Construction will begin in 2022, and the plant will be operational in 2025.