3:06pm: Hotline with Dave Weekley

Charleston-based Buzz Foods adding slaughterhouse to operations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Buzz Foods, a Charleston-based company, plans to expand its footprint in the state by adding a┬álivestock slaughtering and processing facility.

In Wednesday’s announcement, the company said growing its current operations in Kanawha County will increase access for West Virginia residents to locally grown agriculture products.

The new facility will create an estimated 25 to 30 full-time jobs and an additional 20 temporary positions. Construction is expected to begin this summer, the company reported.

“We have considered this expansion for years. We’ve examined other small plants in other markets that have looked to fill the same niche or voice and have done so successfully,” said Dickinson Gould, president of Buzz Foods. “After a lot of consideration, we came to the conclusion we’re the right people to do it and it’s the right time to get started.”

The project will be created through the Abandoned Mine Lands Pilot Program and administered by state Department of Environmental Protection. The company’s location on U.S. Route 60 east of Charleston sits adjacent to two pre-1977 mine sites, which were not adequately restored since they closed prior to the creation of the Abandoned Mines Reclamation Act. Therefore, the project qualified for the AML grant.

“We don’t expect the reclamation work to be really significant or costly,” Gould said. “But in the process we are going to cap a couple of old underground mine sites and build a couple of chutes to properly drain water. It will be an environmental benefit for sure.”

Buzz Foods was awarded the AML grant in 2018 and has been working with the state Department of Agriculture, the Charleston Area Alliance, the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, the National Guard and Refresh Appalachia to facilitate the project.

The slaughterhouse will create opportunities for vendors to sell locally grown products. Gould envisioned the facility becoming a game-changer for small livestock farmers, claiming the “eat local” movement has successfully incorporated vegetables more than proteins.

“Compared to the scale of a big Midwestern packing plant, what we’re going to build will be a micro-facility,” Gould said. “But there’s so little of this type of agricultural infrastructure in West Virginia now, this is going to be a huge leap forward for local livestock producers.”

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