BARRE TOWN — Business is good at the Wilson Industrial Park in Websterville, and it’s about to get even better.
With Vermont Creamery preparing to grow again and New England Excess Exchange planning to move its operations from Montpelier to the Barre Town industrial park once construction of its new headquarters is finished there next spring, contractors will be working through the winter on both projects.
Vermont Creamery broke ground on a 14,000-square-foot addition to its cheese-making facility last week, and construction of an 8,070-square-foot office building for New England Excess Exchange will begin this week.
Local officials are brimming with optimism about both projects even as two others are in the works.
Spruce Mountain Custom Sandblast is seeking permits to construct a 1,600-square-foot addition to its 8,536-square-foot building at the corner of Pitman and Parker roads. Meanwhile, Tenco New England remains interested in leasing — if not buying — the 12,000-square-foot building that now houses the town’s vehicle maintenance shop as a potential home for the heavy equipment business currently on North Main Street in Barre.
Town Manager Carl Rogers said officials are pleased with what appears to be renewed interest in the industrial park.
Vermont Creamery recently acquired a building that last housed the U.S. Army Reserves as part of what company officials describe as a multiphase expansion plan. Currently that building is being used primarily for storage, but it could eventually house the administrative offices of a growing company that specializes in artisanal, hand-crafted cheeses.
Vermont Creamery, formerly Vermont Butter & Cheese, moved to the industrial park in 1989 and has been growing ever since. The new addition, which is scheduled to be finished in November 2014, will more than double the area dedicated to making an increasingly popular assortment of award-winning aged goat’s milk cheeses.
Renovations to the portion of the plant where fresh cheeses and butter are produced are complete, and construction of an addition that will eventually boost production capacity of aged cheeses is underway.
Groleau Construction of Barre is supervising the project, which is being financed through People’s United Bank.
Though construction will continue through the winter and well into next year, the plant will continue to operate at full capacity. Vermont Creamery employs more than 40 workers.
New England Excess Exchange, a wholesale property and liability insurance agency that was founded in Montpelier in 1981, is poised to bring nearly that many jobs to Barre Town next spring. The company employees 35 to 40 people, who will relocate to the new building that will soon be under construction on a 90,000-square-foot lot in the industrial park. The company expects to boost its workforce to 50 full-time employees by 2015.
In a move designed to make sure that project happens, the Select Board last week approved a seven-year tax stabilization agreement with New England Excess Exchange. Essentially, the agreement grants the company a 30 percent discount on the municipal portion of its tax bill for the next seven years.
Representatives of New England Excess Exchange have indicated they should be in a position to move from River Street in Montpelier to the Barre Town industrial park in May.
Meanwhile, the town’s conversations with Tenco remain unsettled, according to Rogers, who said the Select Board is waiting to hear back from the Barre company, which has also expressed interest in moving to the industrial park.
Zoning Administrator Chris Violette said representatives of Spruce Mountain Custom Sandblast are working on obtaining permits for their own modest expansion plans.
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