Weatherford Democrat

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May 13, 2011

Kennedy Sausage to move to Santo

WEATHERFORD — By this time next year, Kennedy Sausage, which has been in Weatherford for years, will have moved to its new location in Santo.

It’s a move that has been in the works for months, and is being done because the company is experiencing a lot of new growth — and hopes to expand even more, owner Lou Profera said.

Originally owned by a Weatherford family, Kennedy Sausage had to declare bankruptcy and was bought by Profera’s Texas Best Proteins LP. The business is operating in a plant on Clear Lake Road that was built in 1962, Profera noted. And, the electric bill is higher than it would be with the co-op in Santo, he said. Plus, there are still some issues having to do with the bankruptcy that make the location unsuitable, he said.

Both an improvement in the building and more efficient and affordable electricity will help the business grow, he said. Already, the company is exporting meat products and moving beyond the traditional pork chops and meats to ready-to-eat foods and smokes meats, Profera said. They are also selling their products across the United States as far as the East Coast, he noted.

Ultimately, the goal will be to have 40 to 60 people working at the plant in Santo, Profera said.

Kennedy Sausage will move operations to a sale barn at the intersection of U.S. Highway 281 and Interstate 20 in Palo Pinto County. The plant will face the highway and will likely make operations run smoother to Oklahoma and other northern points, including the Midwest, Profera said.

The company has kept the recipes the same, but tried to make production and other improvements, Profera said.

“I have a lot of respect for people who gave us a chance,” he said, noting one of those people includes Steve Butcher.

Butcher is an area growth council representative who helped facilitate the move to Santo.

According to Mineral Wells City Manager Lance Howerton, a state program called the Texas Capital Fund has been used to assist in the renovation of the property.

“The city receives money to build the facility and leases the building to the prospect,” Howerton explained.

The lease money, in return, is used to repay the state lenders with no interest over 20 years.

“We’ve done this a number of times here in town,” Howerton said, adding the program is used in a variety of ways to stimulate local economies.

The Texas Capital Fund is “used to help businesses expand in Texas, to retain an existing business in Texas that might move elsewhere, or to entice outside business,” he said.

“This is an opportunity for me to grow a business,” Profera said.

Lone Star News Group writer Chris Agee contributed to this report.

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