McKee Foods products, Drake's coffee cakes and Little Debbir Zebra Cakes
McKee's brands include Little Debbie, Drake’s, Sunbelt, Heartland and Fieldstone.

COLLEGEDALE, TENN. — McKee Foods Corp., based in Collegedale, said it will invest $102 million on an expansion project expected to add about 50 jobs over the next five years.

Included in the project will be new manufacturing equipment as well as an office building and conference center.

Mike McKee, McKee Foods
Mike McKee, president and c.e.o. of McKee Foods

“We’re thrilled to be increasing our production capacity and supporting the community we love through new jobs and investment in the local economy,” said Mike McKee, president and chief executive officer of McKee Foods.

With annual sales of $1.4 billion, privately-held McKee is one of the largest snack cake companies in the United States. The company’s brands include Little Debbie, Drake’s, Sunbelt, Heartland and Fieldstone.

In recent years, McKee’s largest investments have been away from Collegedale, which is located about 20 miles east of Chattanooga. In 2014, the company said it was investing $34 million to expand production at its manufacturing facility in Stuarts Draft, Va. Two years earlier, the company announced plans to spend $19 million on new baking equipment for the Virginia plant.

In 2012, the company was successful in its $27.5 million bid for the Drake’s snack cake brand and certain equipment as part of the Hostess Brands, Inc. liquidation.

Numerous local officials in the Collegedale area offered words of support for McKee and the company’s expansion plans. The mayor of Hamilton County, where McKee is located, said the company is the county’s top employer.