Echo Lake Foods announces it will rebuild its plant in Burlington

CREATED Feb 4, 2013

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BURLINGTON - Officials investigating the Echo Lake Foods fire do not believe arson was a factor. But as they work to pinpoint an exact cause, there are now hundreds of employees that have hope they'll have jobs again.

Amid the ashes, a sign that things are turning around at the Echo Foods plant in Burlington. The company announced it wants to rebuild in the city.

“I think that's very good news," said Bill Milatz. "They employ a lot of people and the way the economy is here in the community, it's good they're going to have jobs."

Milatz is a retired Burlington firefighter. On the job for 35 years, he credits the crews for helping save enough of the plant, it's even possible to plan on opening the doors again. So does Mayor Bob Miller.

"When you consider 60% of the plant is still standing out there, for them to relocate their operation somewhere else is very costly for them," said Mayor Miller.

Miller was in the room when the decision was made to give it a try, though that will take time.

"Now it's a matter of getting the site back from the insurance company," he said. "We don't know when that's going to be."

Some good news to look forward to, as a grateful community can't help but continue to look back on what could have been.

"It's been a very tough deal," the mayor said. "I knock on wood every time I think about it, the fact that all the employees who were there got out."

Until the plant reopens, the hundreds of employees who lost their jobs will meet this week to find out about unemployment benefits. If you'd like to help them, a fund has been set up at Talmer banks in Burlington.