BURLINGTON — Echo Lake Foods is set to rebuild in the City of Burlington, thanks to an agreement that officials said Wednesday would reinstate all jobs lost after a fire ravaged the plant in January.
The company originally said it planned to rebuild here after an eight-alarm fire last winter partially destroyed the egg plant, located at 33102 S. Honey Lake Road. As of Wednesday, “all the paperwork has now fallen into place,” said City of Burlington Mayor Robert Miller.
“It looks like they are going to be rebuilding here in Burlington,” County Executive Jim Ladwig confirmed.
According to Ladwig, that’s thanks to an agreement hashed out between the company and state/local economic development corporations. The package — which has yet to be finalized — would assist Echo Lake in rebuilding its fire-damaged 70,000-square-foot egg plant, so long as the company meets certain requirements, including complying with federal safety guidelines, Ladwig said.
The incentives package is not technically agreed upon yet, Ladwig said. But “they have indicated that they’re going to rebuild here, and their interest is obviously contingent upon the package.”
Speaking with The Journal Times in May, company General Manager and Vice President Jerry Warntjes suggested Echo Lake might move the plant’s egg-breaking operations elsewhere.
Ladwig said he’s “not sure” about that part of the business, but said Echo Lake has committed to 300 Burlington jobs, fully returning the plant to pre-fire staffing levels.
The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and Racine County Economic Development Corp. have worked through the package with Echo Lake; the City of Burlington has also offered some assistance, according to Ladwig.
The company itself must meet several requirements as part of the package, which Ladwig said is tied to capital investment and job
creation. The package requires that Echo Lake hire all its new employees from within Racine County and comply with federal safety standards, according to Ladwig.
In July, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Echo Lake Foods for 27 safety violations, with most classified as “serious.” OSHA officials have said the citations were not related to the fire, the cause of which is still under investigation.
Miller said it will take time for the local planning commission and necessary state entities to approve Echo Lake’s plan to rebuild, meaning the company likely won’t break ground for some time.
Both he and Ladwig agreed that Echo Lake’s decision is good news for the community.
Warntjes did not respond to interview requests Wednesday from The Journal Times. Officials at the RCEDC declined to comment at this stage in the process.