Highland EDA Gets Update From Highlands Ag Center Manager
Monterey, VA – The Highland County Economic Development Authority invited Chris Fuller, the manager of the Alleghany Highlands Agricultural Center to its first meeting of the new year. Chris came to Highland County from Durango Colorado, where he managed a small meat processing plant. Chris also has a degree in culinary arts, so he knows the restaurant side of the beef industry as well as the livestock side. Chris talks about the ongoing preparations for opening the plant.
“We recently met with persons in charge of doing our grant that we’re going to be getting from the Highland Center to purchase equipment for the plant to lease from the Highland Center and use for processing,” says Fuller. “Once we get that approved, and we can start purchasing equipment, I think things will really start to pick up once we get equipment in the building. Right now I’m setting up interviews to staff the plant, hope to have someone hired by the next couple of weeks if interviewing goes well.”
Chris goes on to discuss the three positions at the plant that he is looking to fill.
“There’s three starting positions, and hopefully very shortly after we’ll be able to increase that; two of them will be part time and one of them will be full time,” he says. “The reason there not all full time right off the bat is I’ve yet to really get a handle on how much production we’re going to be doing right out of the gate.”
Chris has already had inquiries from local cattle producers about processing their stock. He estimates that, if the equipment ordering process goes as planned, the plant will open by the end of February. Chris is hoping that once things get rolling at the plant and the staff gets some training and experience, it will be possible to process about 8 beef cattle per day.
Supervisor Kevin Wagner also attended the EDA meeting and talked about his expectations for the year.
“I’m looking forward to working with the EDA,” says Wagner. “I hope you guys can put together an aggressive plan and maybe sit down with us and talk about some ideas you have, where you’d like to go with economic development. I really think the EDA is one of the main tools that I would like to see empowered to go forward and try to get some interest and try to get some interest out there in the Highlands.”
EDA members plan to take a trip to Floyd County next week to meet with tourism and economic development staff there to learn more about their programs.
The next meeting of the Highland Economic Development Authority is scheduled for Tuesday, February 14, at 7 pm in the Highland Center.