CAMPBELL - The Kraft Heinz company announced Friday morning that its dairy plant in Campbell will be sold to Upstate Niagara Cooperative -- a cooperative of 360 dairy farms around Western New York -- saving the plant from closure and preserving a portion of its jobs.

Under the agreement, at least 125 jobs will remain at the plant. That number is expected to swell to 150 over the next two years.

More than 300 jobs were at risk when Kraft Heinz planned to close the factory.

“We’re thrilled to announce that Upstate Niagara Cooperative has agreed to purchase our Campbell dairy facility and has signed a long-term co-packing agreement with Kraft Heinz,” said Michael Mullen, Senior Vice President of Corporate and Government Affairs at Kraft Heinz, in a statement.

“We look forward to adding the Campbell cheese facility to our organization in the coming weeks,” said Larry Webster, CEO of Upstate Niagara Cooperative, in a statement. “As a dairy cooperative owned by farm families throughout the region, this acquisition is an investment by our member owners toward continued and long-term growth for our cooperative and the Campbell facility.”

Upstate Niagara Cooperative Senior Director of Sales and Marketing Mark Serling said the plant will rehire its workforce from current plant workers under Kraft Heinz.

Negotiating parties have reached an agreement of intent to purchase, and the deal is expected to close within the next 30 to 60 days. Upstate Niagara declined to comment on the purchase price because the deal hasn’t concluded yet.

“When we officially close, that’s when we would take over and start running and managing the facility,” Serling said, adding that the hope is for a seamless transition.

“We’re hoping that there’s really no interruption in manufacturing,” he said.

Negotiations to sell the plant were led by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., after Kraft Heinz announced the plant would close in 2015.

“Make no mistake: this plant was in real danger of closing, which would have been devastating locally and caused ripple effects across the entire region and New York's dairy industry,” Gov. Cuomo said in a statement. “I thank Senator Schumer for working with us on finding this great upstate company to purchase this factory and helping to ensure the future of this and the other Kraft Heinz plants that were facing imminent shutdowns.”

“Working together through many challenges [...] we went from a grim situation, where the Campbell plant was on the verge of being boarded up, to where we are today: an Upstate New York company will buy the plant and keep it open for business – to the great benefit of scores and scores of the plant’s workers, as well as for regional dairy farmers and the local economy,” Schumer said in a statement.

Upstate Niagara will invest $10 million into the plant, while Kraft Heinz will invest another $3 to $5 million to improve it. And as a result of keeping jobs in the building, Empire State Development will offer a $5 million grant to assist with the facility’s transition.

Steuben County Industrial Development Agency Executive Director Jamie Johnson said the plant, which produced string cheese and other Italian varieties under Kraft Heinz, will produce block mozzarella and ricotta.

“This is really an opportunity for them to expand the product line,” Johnson said.

Serling also said the deal will allow Upstate Niagara to grow its business. 

“We’ve never had a cheese line, as far as product offerings to sell, so this opens up that whole area for us,” he said.

The cheese will be produced for Kraft, and the company will also look to grow its cheese business with its own customer base.

Serling said the company is still in discussion with its “membership side of the business” regarding potential business relationships with local suppliers. The plant under Kraft Heinz functioned as a reliable source of business for local dairy producers.

“That plant under Kraft, it was taking in roughly two million pounds of milk a day,” said Robert Nichols, Steuben County Legislator along with owner and operator of Nichols Dairy in Addison.

Nichols said it remains to be seen what effect the deal could have on local dairy farmers that aren’t in the Upstate Niagara Cooperative, and whether those producers will still receive business from the plant. But he said it’s much better the plant is still there rather than not.

“It’s good that it’s going to stay open, because it gives capacity for the milk to go to,” Nichols said. “It may be different farms shipping milk there with (the plant’s) new owners, but the good is there’s going to be capacity and it will keep that capacity in the Northeast.”