Middlebury pursues slaughterhouse, aircraft maker
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | October 28,2013
MIDDLEBURY — A slaughterhouse and a glider manufacturer are two prospects that the town’s head of economic development is pursuing.
Vermont Livestock Slaughter & Processing in Ferrisburgh has outgrown its space and is seriously considering a move to a vacant building in the Middlebury Industrial Park for its new home, Jamie Gaucher, director of the Office of Business Development and Innovation, told the Select Board last week in his monthly report.
Gaucher said the relocation and expansion would cost between $3.2 million and $3.5 million.
“What we’re working on right now are financing and structure of the deal,” he said Friday during a telephone interview.
Robin Scheu, executive director of the Addison County Economic Development Corp., said the demand is there for a larger commercial slaughterhouse in the state.
“The project conceptually is a great one and very much needed,” Scheu said. “It’s just a matter of putting all the pieces in place to make it work financially.”
If efforts are successful, Vermont Livestock would move into the former Specialty Filaments building off Exchange Street in the industrial park.
He said owner Carl Cushing is in need of more space for his slaughterhouse and processing plant because it currently has to turn away business.
Gaucher emphasized the deal is a work in progress.
“We’re trying to figure it all out but the company is very interested and the owner of the building is very interested and Middlebury is certainly very interested,” he said.
Gaucher is also working with Mike Vincent of J&M Aviation to persuade a German company to locate an assembly, sales and maintenance facility at the Middlebury State Airport.
The company, which Gaucher declined to identify, makes motorized gliders. The company has a facility in San Diego and is looking for a partner to expand on the East Coast, he said.
The German company would ship aircraft parts through the Port of Montreal, down to Middlebury, where J&M Aviation would assemble the gliders, and perform maintenance and certification, Gaucher said.
“This would enable them to have access to markets along the East Coast, inclusive of Boston, New York, Montreal, all the way down to North Carolina, potentially, and all the maintenance and certification and additional work would come back to Mr. Vincent at the Middlebury airport,” he said.
J&M Aviation currently provides aircraft maintenance at the airport, including painting aircraft.
The state Agency of Transportation would also need to be involved.
The AOT would have to approve construction of a building to house the glider facility.
Guy Rouelle, the state’s Aviation Program administrator, said the state has a track record of developing its airports.
“We have over 365 leases at airports so it’s a proven fact that we are amenable to developing our airports,” Rouelle said.
Of the 365 leases at the 10 state airports, he said the state owns 28 buildings with the rest owned by businesses and individuals.
Gaucher said there is also an added benefit that the airport would reap.
“What we’re trying to do is demonstrate enough investment to leverage federal dollars and extend the runway and build out some of the infrastructure at the Middlebury airport,” he said.
The single runway at the airport is 2,500 feet.
Gaucher also briefed the board on several other business prospects: a local business person wants to start an air ambulance service that would transport patients between hospitals; a broadband company that serves rural communities has expressed interest in serving the Middlebury community; and a company that operates several restaurants in the state is considering Middlebury for a Mexican restaurant.
Messages left for Cushing of Vermont Livestock and Mike Vincent of J&M Aviation were not immediately returned.