Entrepreneur receives slaughterhouse grantBy Susan Smallheer STAFF WRITER | May 02,2009WESTMINSTER — Dan Mandich hasn't quit his day job just yet, but thanks to a $648,000 state grant awarded to the town of Westminster and earmarked for his new slaughterhouse he soon will.
Mandich said Friday that the grant money will allow him to renovate the former Coastal Seafoods warehouse on Back Westminster Road into a state-of-the-art slaughterhouse.
Mandich, who works at Black River Produce in North Springfield, said he hopes to have the new slaughterhouse open by the end of August, in time for the traditional busy season for slaughterhouses.
Mandich is searching for a new name for his new business, since Vermont Meats, his first choice, is already taken, according to the secretary of state's office.
"I'm thinking 'Westminster Meats,' but I would really like to have the name 'Vermont' in it," said Mandich, who said he expected to find a new name for his business in about a week.
The slaughterhouse, which will create about 15 new jobs, will be a regional facility, not just serving the farmers in the town of Westminster, said Town Manager Sonia Alexander.
Mandich said the slaughterhouse will handle beef, lamb, pork, chicken and turkeys and will have organic and non-organic services as well.
He said the early decision would also help farmers decide how many animals to raise this summer.
"The support for this is strong," said Alexander, whose town will be awarded $600,000 to be loaned to Mandich at below-prime interest rates and the balance of $48,000 is earmarked for administering the grant.
As the money is paid back by Mandich to the town, it will be reinvested into other Westminster businesses, Alexander said.
Gov. James Douglas announced the slaughterhouse grant late Thursday afternoon, noting that Vermont farmers desperately needed slaughterhouse facilities.
"Not only will these funds help finance the renovation of the former Coastal Seafood building into a much needed slaughterhouse, but it will also create 15 jobs," the governor said in a statement. The funds will come from the Vermont Community Development Program.
The town of Westminster had sought an expedited grant, so that Mandich could have the money in time to make changes in Coastal Seafoods, as well as order his new slaughterhouse equipment in time for fall.
Mandich said that he had already lined up contractors and subcontractors to do the work on the building, which he already owns. The building was initially a slaughterhouse in the 1970s operating under the name Mountain Meats, but was converted to a warehouse about 20 years ago.
Mandich, a resident of neighboring Walpole, N.H., said that he would start taking reservations from farmers in the coming weeks.
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