Egg facility hopes to hatch tax break

Wutthichai Luemuang/

WATERTOWN — A Georgia-based poultry breeding company’s plans to build an egg hatchery facility in the agribusiness park on Route 3 in the town of Watertown has cleared a hurdle.

CWT Farms International, a 62-year-old company with facilities in Ohio and several southern states, is eyeing a 28,000-square-foot egg hatchery on a shovel-ready site in the Thousand Islands International Agriculture and Business Park, located near the BOCES complex.

During a special meeting on Wednesday morning, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency approved the initial project resolution.

The company approached local economic development officials earlier this summer with the $9.75 million proposal. It’s also looking at potential sites in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

“Timing is important,” said David J. Zembiec, chief executive officer of Jefferson County Economic Development.

The JCIDA needs to accommodate the company’s hopes of being in operation by next summer.

The company is requesting a 15-year tax abatement package, in which it would receive a 75 percent tax abatement during the first five years, 50 percent in the second five years and 25 percent during the last. The egg hatchery would pay full taxes in the 16th year.

The JCIDA board will again discuss the proposal at its Sept. 9 meeting.

The hatchery would initially employ 15 workers, growing to 20 after three years, according to paperwork submitted to the JCIDA.

The facility would include a hatching, shipping and receiving areas, a warehouse and office space. It would be located on Lot 8 in the ag-biz park, owned by developer Michael Lundy.

Chicks would be hatched at the facility and then primarily head off to Canada for the broiler chicken market before ending up as rotisserie chickens, the kinds that are sold at grocery stores.

The hatching eggs would start at the company’s laying operations in the south, be placed in specially designed boxes and delivered by refrigerated tractor trailers here within 24 hours.

The JCIDA hopes to hear from the company in October or November whether it selects the ag-biz park site.

County economic development officials found out about the prospect through Jeffrey Pierce, CWT’s vice president of marketing and strategic alliances, the same executive who was involved in developing the Aviagen existing hatchery in 2008 in the county corporate park about a mile away.

“He liked how we worked with him then,” Mr. Zembiec said.

Aviagen is owned by the same German parent company as CWT.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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