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There is good economic news in Perry County. Gilster-Mary Lee is expanding its facilities and will add 50 employees. The company, which makes cereals and other grain-based products such as pasta and baking mixes, will build a cereal warehouse and trucking garage in the Perryville Industrial Park. The company has operated in downtown Perryville since 1969, and the new facilities will ease traffic congestion.
At a time when the national unemployment rate tops 10 percent, Perryville jobless rate has been 6.6 percent. Gilster-Mary Lee currently employs 640 workers in Perryville. The company, based in nearby Chester, Ill., also has a facility at McBride, Mo., between Perryville and Chester.
The company's expansion in Perryville reflects the demand for cereal as grocery shoppers across the nation look for food bargains. The private-label cereals produced at Gilster-Mary Lee retail at lower prices than brand-name products. During economic downturns, people are "looking for more value for their money," said Gilster-Mary Lee's president and general manager, Don Welge.
The Perryville expansion comes as other indicators, including hiring in Southeast Missouri, show signs of picking up. Any plans for hiring will be seen as good news by the unemployed who are seeking good jobs.