September 5/Denver/Press Release -- Leprino Foods Co. is consolidating its string-cheese operations within Colorado, a move that includes the closure of its Ravenna, Neb., facility but will not add any new jobs in Colorado.

The work will move to the 250-employee Leprino facility in Fort Morgan, where string cheese has never been produced, said Mike Reidy, Leprino's senior vice president of corporate affairs.

"This has been a difficult decision to reach," Reidy said.

To produce string cheese in Fort Morgan, Leprino has made a significant investment in that facility, he said.

Leprino said the decision to close the Ravenna facility was driven by technological advances at other facilities and the abundance of milk in northeast Colorado, where new dairies have opened and where established dairies have expanded.

By contrast, Reidy said, the "Ravenna milk supply was challenged."

The news was greeted with dismay in Nebraska.

Ravenna Mayor Peg Dethlefs said 173 employees will lose their jobs; 60% of those employees live in the town of 1,360.

"It's a bad deal. It is not only going to affect the employees, but Leprino did a lot of business with the businesses in town," Dethlefs said. "It's going to hurt."

The Ravenna plant will close November 8, Dethlefs said.

Leprino said it is offering employees at the Ravenna plant severance pay, health care benefit-continuation assistance and potential opportunities at other Leprino locations.