Joe Miceli has deep roots in the Cleveland east side neighborhood where Miceli Dairy Products, a 62-year-old cheese producer, is located. In fact, he grew up on East 90th Street in a house that was torn down in 1963 to make room for the expanding company.
Now the company is growing again, and Miceli is planting deeper roots in the neighborhood — while adding 60 new jobs to the city’s tax base. The company has secured financing for a $16-20 million expansion that is scheduled to break ground this year.
“Some people think of this neighborhood as lost or forgotten, but we don’t agree,” says Miceli. “This is an ideal location — one mile from the Cleveland Clinic, close to highways and downtown and not far from where the Opportunity Corridor is being planned.”
Miceli Dairy Products is located on East 90th Street off of Buckeye Road in an area that has often been dubbed “The Forgotten Triangle” because of its high levels of poverty, vast tracts of vacant land, and lack of new business development.
Expansion might seem simple enough given the proliferation of vacant land, yet part of the site is a polluted brown field. Despite a raft of challenges and being courted by other communities, Miceli chose to stay.
In January, the Small Business Administration awarded Miceli a $5.49 million loan through its 504 program, which helps small businesses with plant and equipment expansion. The loan is the largest in the SBA program’s history. Additional funding will come from Cleveland banks. Miceli is now conducting tests on the brown field site.
The project’s first phase will be complete by 2012, enabling the 138-employee company to double its production of ricotta, one of the cheeses it ships to grocery stores nationwide. The second phase, to be completed a few years later, will include a new mozzarella and provolone factory and a facility to transform waste from the cheese-manufacturing process into energy.