A Massachusetts-based company will begin making french fries that don't go soggy in the microwave at a new plant in the Freeport Center, company officials say.

Horizon International Foods of Burlington, Mass., hopes to launch its "Gold Rush" french fries line from a new 76,000-square-foot building still under construction. About 150 people, some already hired, are expected to be employed at the plant, Marco Bonne, Horizon president and chief executive officer, said."Our target is to be up and producing by June of this year. Of course that is subject to equipment deliveries," he said.

The yearly payroll will be about $1.5 million, he said.

The plant will manufacture french fries to be sold in the West and Southwest. The company began piloting the product in convenience stores in the Salt Lake area on Jan. 1 and will soon introduce them in Tucson.

"We have a french fry that cooks in 60 seconds or less. When you take the french fries out of the microwave, you have the same eating experience and internal texture identical to that from a deep-fat fryer," Bonne said. "It's a technological breakthrough and will have a lot of applications in different environments."

Among those applications are home use, small fast-food restaurants or stands that can't afford deep-fat fryers and convenience stores that sell sandwiches and other prepared food.

The plant will be the Horizon's second and is hoped to create a Western foothold in a plan to distribute the fries and additional frozen food lines nationwide by the end of two years. Bonne also foresees a big demand for the products overseas.

"Our plant in Massachusetts is too small to take on major markets. That is the reason we want to get into operation as quickly as we can," Bonne said.

He said that the Clearfield building will have enough room to double its operations - expected in about three to four years.

"The factory is designed with a lot of growth in mind," Bonne said.

Bonne said the reason the Utah site was chosen was because of the proximity of raw Idaho potatoes, a strong work ethic among Utah employees, an ideal distribution point and training opportunities for employees. The Davis Area Vocational Center in Kaysville has agreed to train Horizon workers through its "custom-fit" program.

The plant will join two other frozen food manufacturers in the state including a Stouffer Foods Corp. plant in Springville and All-American Gourmet plant also located at the Freeport Center.