Chesapeake Hardwood closing Hancock plant

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(Host) A Virginia-based wood products company is pulling out of Vermont. Chesapeake Hardwood Products says it’s moving its Hancock operations to Virginia.

James Haynie is president of Chesapeake. He says the company is hoping to sell the plant, and has two potential buyers. Haynie says if the plant can’t be sold, it will be shut down next year. The company employs 88 people at the Hancock facility.

Haynie says the main reason for the move is to consolidate operations at the company’s headquarters near Norfolk, Virginia. But he’s also critical of the business climate in Vermont:

(Haynie) “That was not the overriding issue for us in deciding to leave the state of Vermont, it just is a factor when you put everything on the scale. When other things come out equal, if you look at the political environment, or the regulatory and taxation in the state versus other places, it would at least play a role.”

(Host) Haynie also points to the local inventory tax. Hancock is one of only a handful of Vermont communities with the tax. More than 80% of the town is owned by the National Forest Service, and off the tax rolls.

The Hancock facility has been in operation under various owners since the nineteen twenties. In a town with just over four hundred people, the plant has long been the main employer. Wendy Hiest is on the Hancock Select Board:

(Heist) “I have two uncles that work there. One has worked there pretty much his entire life. I have a cousin that’s worked there for 29 years and he lives with a woman that’s worked there well over 30 years. There are quite a few people that have worked there 30 years or more and they’re scared.”

(Host) The company says if the plant is shut down, it will happen sometime next year. By law, workers have to be given 60 day’s notice before the plant is closed.

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