It was a day full of happy shiny people yesterday as more than 200 locals – including school children, city council members, state legislators, industry officials and even members of the high school color guard – cheered on Woolwich Dairy owners Tony & Olga Dutra at an official ground-breaking celebration.
Tony Dutra told the crowd that in the next few months, locals are going to see a “class act, state-of-the art goat cheese manufacturing facility” built in the city’s new business park. He said he looked at California, New Mexico and Virginia, but eventually landed in Wisconsin.
Lancaster Mayor Jerry Wehrle was in fine form, as he welcomed the Dutras to the city, noting the couple has already purchased a home near Lancaster’s new Arrow Ridge Business Park. And Department of Commerce Secretary Mary Burke ceremoniously presented the city with a huge mock check for $156,000 to be used to provide the infrastructure necessary to support the Woolwich business expansion in the city’s new business park. (Let’s hope it doesn’t bounce.)
Burke noted the Woolwich Dairy project is a great example of where Wisconsin needs to be heading – while we are proud of our dairy heritage, we have to realize dairy has changed and we need to make sure we’re changing with it.
Tony and Olga Dutra urged dairy producers in the crowd to consider entering the dairy goat industry, or if they are already dairy goat producers, to consider expanding their herds. In an “If you build it, they will come” moment, Tony told the crowd that if he could get enough high quality goat’s milk from the area, they would start planning an expansion.
Woolwich Dairy has production facilities in Ontario and Quebec and is Canada’s leading largest goat cheese producer. In an official press release handed out at the event by the Department of Commerce, it was noted the company has exported cheese to the U.S. since 1986 and has a 20 percent share of the U.S. market. The Lancaster plant will bring up to 30 jobs to the area.