Kraft considering Coral Gables, Miami for Latin headquarters
By Samantha Joseph
Kraft Foods International is considering Coral Gables and Miami for a projected mid-year relocation of its Latin American headquarters.
Kraft now operates its Caribbean distribution hub at One Alhambra Plaza in Coral Gables.
Aurora Gonzalez, director of corporate affairs for Kraft Foods Latin America, said the company hasn't decided on a location or a date for its move from Rye Brook, NY, but wants to come to Miami-Dade County by the middle of this year to be closer to its target market.
"There's nothing that is set in stone yet," she said Tuesday.
Unconfirmed reports say the company is considering property in west Miami and space near Miami International Airport.
Coral Gables business development administrator Stephen Albee confirmed that Kraft has been looking in that city for five to six months and has followed up with a property owner there.
"We're uncertain exactly where they are with that, but the city is willing to do whatever we have to do to help them with their decision and get them to come here," he said. "They're considered a major tenant, and so this is a major move. They will immediately become one of the top Fortune 500 companies in the area."
Kraft is based in Northfield, IL, and operates in 150 countries with 109,000 employees, 60,000 in the US and Canada. Last year, it reported nearly $30 billion in revenue. The firm owns brands such as Maxwell House, Kool-Aid, Oscar Mayer, Shake 'n Bake, Jell-O and Nabisco and is the world's second-largest branded food and beverage company.
Earlier this month, Kraft Foods International's director of corporate affairs, Jonathan Atwood, said the company would relocate about 100 executives from its Rye Brook offices. The move is part of a companywide reorganization announced last week as part of an effort to regain market share.
Last month, Kraft retained a major real estate company to help it search for a new Latin American headquarters. Real estate sources said Esslinger Wooten Maxwell was representing Kraft in South Florida, but the brokerage firm declined comment.
"They are dealing with a very substantial real estate company that's representing them," Mr. Albee said, "and believe me, they have looked at everything."
A press release Friday announced that Kraft was looking for about 35,000 square feet of office space and would invest more than $2 million in the county. The relocation would create 97 jobs, each paying around $76,000, in the next two years, the council said.
The council also said it has assisted Kraft in applying for county and state incentives, including a State of Florida Qualified Target Industry Tax Refund.
Coral Gables is offering the company no financial incentives.
"We're really pleased that they've made a choice to relocate here in Miami-Dade," Mr. Albee said. "If they end up in Coral Gables, we will be happy to assist them and their employees, but wherever they go, we're going to be happy and supportive."