Georgia company breaks ground on $16 million egg hatchery on Route 3

·3 min read

Jun. 16—WATERTOWN — A Georgia company is making the biggest investment in its 60-year history with a $16 million egg hatchery in the agribusiness park on Route 3.

The company, CWT Farms International, broke ground Wednesday morning on a 50,000-square-foot hatchery in the Thousand Islands International Agriculture and Business Park that will produce 800,000 chicks a week.

The developer, economic developers and Jefferson County and town of Watertown officials came together to celebrate the start of the project and the agriculture industry in the north country.

"This marks an important milestone," said Stephen M. Hunt, regional director for Empire State Development.

Jeffrey Lee Pierce, CWT's vice president of marketing and strategic alliances, credited the company's partnership with those entities to bring the project to Jefferson County.

With difficulty getting construction materials and having to make changes in the project, Mr. Pierce said they worked together to overcome those issues and make the hatchery happen.

"It's the biggest investment in our company's history, biggest single investment," Mr. Pierce said.

He said CWT Farms decided it made better financial sense to immediately go forward with an expansion of 28,000 square feet to 50,000 square feet, and 400,000 eggs to 800,000.

The plant is slated to be in operation in early spring. The company will employ 20 full-time workers.

"They're good jobs," Mr. Pierce said, adding that workers will receive "good, fair health benefits and retirement."

Jefferson County Agricultural Coordinator Jay M. Matteson said the hatchery will strengthen the north country's agricultural industry.

Mr. Pierce said about 25% of the chicks will go to the Canadian broiler market, while the plant will also supply a couple of chicken plants in southern New York and one in northern Pennsylvania.

In April, CWT received $1.5 million from Empire State Development, which included a $1 million grant and $500,000 Excelsior Job Program grant.

A new company, Design Build Innovations, DBi, formed by businessmen Michael E. Lundy and Corry J. Lawler, will build the hatchery. Jamesway Chick Master Incubator, out of Cambridge, Ontario, and Medina, Ohio, is providing the incubator equipment.

CWT was looking at acquiring an existing hatchery, but this site was shovel-ready and he already new the players, Mr. Pierce said.

In 2008, he and county officials worked on another hatchery in the Jefferson County Corporate Park on Coffeen Street.

Mr. Matteson recalled how Mr. Lundy and local officials came up with the idea for the Route 3 park when they were working on a agricultural projects a few years ago, noting that they had difficulty finding a suitable site.

But Mr. Lundy was driving by the property, adjacent to the Board of Cooperative Educational Services complex, when he noticed a realtor was about to put up a "for sale" sign on it.

He had been eyeing that property for some time.

"I told her to put the sign back in her trunk and come to my office," Mr. Lundy said.

They worked out a deal for Mr. Lundy to buy it.