CHARLESTON — An economic development project funded by an Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot Program will add 25 to 30 full-time jobs at Buzz Foods.

The grant, which will be administered by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, will enable Buzz Foods to expand current operations to include a livestock slaughter and processing facility on land the company owns east of Charleston. The company’s property lies adjacent to two abandoned mine sites which were closed prior to 1977’s adoption of the Abandoned Mines Reclamation Act, therefore making it eligible for the AML funds.

Dickinson Gould, president of Buzz Foods, joined Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt during Agriculture and Conservation Day at the West Virginia Legislature to announce the project. The expansion not only will add jobs in the area, but will provide new opportunities for local livestock producers as well as helping meet consumer demand for more locally sourced food, Gould said in a press release.

“Our planned expansion will serve as an exciting piece of agricultural infrastructure for the region and an important link in the local food supply chain,” he said in the release.

“Adding slaughter and value-added processing activities to our current business will create new selling opportunities for local livestock producers and will help the local meat industry meet consumer demand.

“West Virginia is home to world-class beef, pork and lamb producers but much of the value of what is created here is lost when the animals are shipped away to be processed. This project can begin to change that model and create great job opportunities in the process.”

Buzz Foods was awarded the AML grant last year and has been working with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture, Charleston Area Alliance, the West Virginia Small Business Development Center, the West Virginia National Guard and Refresh Appalachia to facilitate the project. An additional 15 to 20 temporary jobs also will be created through the expansion.

“As we look for ways to diversify our state’s economy, we should not overlook processing jobs in agriculture sectors. Development projects like the Buzz Foods expansion will create vital opportunities for West Virginia farmers and entrepreneurs,” Leonhardt said in the press release.

“Once this project is completed, consumers should look forward to eating value-added meat products raised and processed right here in West Virginia. This is a win for the Mountain State and a win for our livestock producers.”

Project goals include supply chain development, job training, as well as workforce and business development and opportunities for local farmers to participate in value-added product expansion. Costs covered by the grant include AML reclamation and remediation costs, land acquisition and related costs, site development, facility construction, meat processing equipment and operation costs.

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