Thursday, April 19, 2007

Woolwich Dairy Breaks Ground

It was a day full of happy shiny people yesterday as more than 200 locals - including school children, city council members, state legislators, industry officials and even members of the high school color guard - cheered on Woolwich Dairy owners Tony & Olga Dutra at an official ground-breaking celebration.

The Dutras ceremoniously shoveled the first few spades of dirt to build a new 27,000 sq. ft. goat cheese processing plant in Lancaster, Wis., making this southwestern Wisconsin community home to the new Woolwich Dairy U.S. Headquarters.

Tony Dutra told the crowd that in the next few months, locals are going to see a "class act, state-of-the art goat cheese manufacturing facility" built in the city's new business park. He said he looked at California, New Mexico and Virginia, but eventually landed in Wisconsin.

Why? Because "Wisconsin is the best state. It is the heartland for dairy." Amen, brother.

Lancaster Mayor Jerry Wehrle was in fine form, as he welcomed the Dutras to the city, noting the couple has already purchased a home near Lancaster's new Arrow Ridge Business Park. And Department of Commerce Secretary Mary Burke ceremoniously presented the city with a huge mock check for $156,000 to be used to provide the infrastructure necessary to support the Woolwich business expansion in the city's new business park. (Let's hope it doesn't bounce.)

Burke noted the Woolwich Dairy project is a great example of where Wisconsin needs to be heading - while we are proud of our dairy heritage, we have to realize dairy has changed and we need to make sure we're changing with it.

Tony and Olga Dutra urged dairy producers in the crowd to consider entering the dairy goat industry, or if they are already dairy goat producers, to consider expanding their herds. In an "If you build it, they will come" moment, Tony told the crowd that if he could get enough high quality goat's milk from the area, they would start planning an expansion.

Woolwich Dairy has production facilities in Ontario and Quebec and is Canada's leading largest goat cheese producer. In an official press release handed out at the event by the Department of Commerce, it was noted the company has exported cheese to the U.S. since 1986 and has a 20 percent share of the U.S. market. The Lancaster plant will bring up to 30 jobs to the area.

Welcome to Wisconsin, Tony & Olga!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I find it disconcerting that the state spends the tax dollars of the people already in the goat cheese business in Wisconsin to lure in a foreign company to complete with them for milk and for customers. Giving the town $156,000 for infrastructure to support a company is not fair to the people that have to make without a state subsidy. Its interesting to note that the article this month in DBIC's newsletter by Dan Strongin points out that large companies, like Woolwich who has two other plants in Canada and is already the largest producer of goat cheese in North America is not the way to go and he warns that foreign companies owning plants in Wisconsin, note that Woolrich is Canadian, is hurting our home grown cheese plants.

Anonymous said...

It makes me sick to my stomach that ANYBODY from Wisconsin would fight the addition of a new dairy facility to the state. New jobs to the state should always be welcome. And this is a free market; the only people worried about competition coming in are those who are not producing a quality product, or are not treating their suppliers (the farmers) well. Wisconsin's biggest weakness is that they let the diary facilities that do not meet quality standards continue to operate. Travel outside of Wisconsin and you will see that there are a number of plants within this state that would not be operating if not for government protection to sustain the subpar conditions they are currently operating under. Woolwich Dairy, we welcome you to Wisconsin because you are a quality company producing a quality product.