Locker gets grant to expand, add equipment

David Phillips

Valley Butchery and Meat Market in Spring Valley is receiving a $42,011 Minnesota Value Added Grant procured by former economic development director Cathy Enerson to expand its building and purchase equipment.

The total project for owners Rusty and Tanner Hellickson is estimated at $168,045. The economic impact of the grant includes retaining six full-time jobs, increasing the number of days per week for processing, saving energy and saving labor, according to Enerson. New equipment to be used in required separation of space allows both Hellicksons to process at the same time, doubling the owners’ ability to process meats. Retail customers will also be able to select meats from an eight-door self-serve freezer case.

Rusty and Tanner Hellickson purchased Valley Butchery and Meat Market in Spring Valley two years ago in July. The Hellicksons, former employees of Kraut Meat Locker, are what Enerson refers to as a succession story.

Valley Butchery and Meat Market is becoming a valuable retail outlet for area livestock farmers, emerging fish and shrimp farmers, and for those in the area that raise bees, Enerson said. Once construction of the expansion project is complete, a smoke house will smoke seven new varieties of links and varieties of trout.

There will be less overall transportation, noted Enerson, and improved environmental impact when local farmers raise more animals and have them processed locally. Food safety is always in the forefront, she added, as the Hellicksons’ expansion project will bring the plant up to current code.

The Hellicksons told her that the expanded space and new equipment will improve overall health for themselves and their employees. They may hire one additional retail person, and an additional part-time seasonal processor. In addition, Hellicksons will be able to aid the Department of Natural Resources by processing the deer from area chronic wasting disease (CWD) hunts.

This is the second Minnesota Value Added grant that Enerson has written as she has secured a total of $150,000 in grant funds for local butchers in southeastern Minnesota.