BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — City leaders say Kellogg Co.’s decision to split into three companies, each with a separate focus, does not change the fact that Battle Creek will always be home to the cereal giant.
“We’re excited about North America Cereal and Plant (companies) being headquartered in Battle Creek, and we’re excited that, per the company, there will be no jobs lost,” City Manager Rebecca Fleury said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference outside City Hall. “…People can work anywhere, but Battle Creek is passionate about having as many employees remain in Battle Creek as possible and the company has said that they’re willing to work with us in that particular area.”
The new and temporarily-named Global Snacking Co., which already accounts for 80% of Kellogg’s sales, will have dual campuses in Battle Creek and Chicago, with the headquarters in Chicago, the Associated Press reports. The other two companies — focusing on cereal and plant-based products — will remain headquartered in Battle Creek.
Fleury said city leaders didn’t comment Tuesday, when news of the restructuring broke, because they had not yet spoken with anyone at Kellogg’s. She said the company didn’t give the city any heads up before the public found out. Like everyone else, she said, she had a lot of questions. Many were answered when city leaders went to a stakeholder meeting with Kellogg’s Wednesday morning.
“Listening to (Kellogg’s CEO) Mr. (Steve) Cahillane this morning, he felt that this is the best position he can move the Kellogg Co. in,” Fleury said. “…He feels this would be in the spirit of what Mr. Kellogg would do, knowing the economy that we have to today and how each one of those three markets is working.”
She said Kellogg’s expected each of the three new companies to grow. She added that Cahillane said the WKKI research and development facility in Battle Creek would stay where it is and that all three new companies were expected to use it.
She said she wasn’t worried about any changes in property and income tax collection or state-shared revenue, especially since Kellogg’s already had a presence in Chicago.
“(Cahillane) stated there’s no jobs moving. Their footprints are still the same: WKKI, the headquarters, the manufacturing plant,” Fleury said. “…I don’t see a change that we (the city) haven’t already been experiencing with the pandemic.”
She added there was no indication of any change in Kellogg’s philanthropic giving.
“We have committed to be (Cahillane’s) partner going forward with this,” Fleury said. “Whatever he needs from his home community, from Kellogg’s home community, we’ll be there in support.
“And of course, we want people to live here. So what we’re going to do is what we’re already doing: We’re making sure that we have a talent pool for them to draw from, we’re making sure that we have a variety of housing options. And … we have a lot of great economic development things going on,” she continued, citing a “globally-leading” industrial park, the renovation of the McCamly Hotel downtown that overlooks Kellogg’s headquarters and a “thriving” event and restaurant environment.
“Battle Creek is synonymous with Kellogg’s, but you have to realize, there’s much more going on here besides Kellogg’s,” Battle Creek Unlimited CEO and President Joe Sobieralski, whose organization works on economic development, said.
He also pointed to the industrial park, which he said is the largest in the state with more than 85 companies including automotive parts supplier Denso, which supports 13,000 jobs. He added that economic diversification was healthy and smart.
Fleury said Kellogg’s promised to be “open and transparent with us as a community.”
“We are believing in them and we are supporting them in this,” Fleury said. “Whatever they can do to position themselves for growth, we want them to do. And we will do whatever we can to also be their partner in Battle Creek and in other areas.”
“Battle Creek will always be home to Kellogg’s,” she continued. “Whether they have a campus in Grand Rapids, whether they have a campus in Chicago, whether they have a campus in the U.K., Battle Creek will always be its home. Mr. Kellogg was very clear in that.”
Unions representing Kellogg’s workers have not released official statements, but a representative of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union told News 8 that Kellogg’s intends to honor current contracts.
—News 8’s David Horak contributed to this report.