HINESBURG, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont cheese-making plant that closed down after a fire four years ago is getting new life with two new businesses that are opening in its place.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday marked the grand opening for Vermont Smoke and Cure and Green Mountain Organic Creamery at the site of the former Saputo Cheese plant in Hinesburg.
After a fire damaged the Saputo plant in 2008, the Quebec-based company decided not to rebuild, leaving 80 people without jobs.
Vermont Smoke and Cure will take up 37,000 square feet at the site, while Green Mountain Organic Creamery will occupy additional space in another part of the plant. The two companies are expected to employ more than 40 workers in the near future.
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy said the Saputo plant is one of the biggest agricultural redevelopment successes he's seen in Vermont.
"Utilizing federal programs, state programs, equity and debt, the community and their partners have attracted two businesses to town that promise to give Vermont farms opportunities to turn commodities into value-added products," he said. "This means more jobs in Hinesburg, but just as importantly, more sustainable farms across the region."
Vermont Smoke and Cure Chief Executive Chris Bailey said about 15 employees from his former facility in Barre moved to the Hinesburg location. The new facility will allow the company to expand production of its smoked meats, add new products and grow its workforce, he said.
The owners of Green Mountain Organic Creamery, J.D. and Cheryl DeVos, plan to begin processing milk from their Ferrisburg farm, Kimball Brook Farm, at the Hinesburg operation by the end of the month. They plan to hire six employees to help run the creamery, and hope to expand to cheeses, yogurt and ice cream in the coming years.