(Host) In Winooski, a 21st century company is investing in a 19th century building. MyWebGrocer develops software that consumers use to order their groceries online, and as VPR’s Kirk Carapezza reports, it has purchased the Champlain Mill in downtown Winooski.
(Carapezza) The building is like hundreds of old, red-brick mills in New England: it’s largely empty.
Now MyWebGrocer has purchased it. The company will move its headquarters to Winooski from Colchester after the mill is renovated.
(Tarrant) "When we started about 10 years ago we were about six people in Williston."
(Carapezza) Rich Tarrant is the CEO of MyWebGrocer. He says the move will accommodate rapid growth.
(Tarrant) "Now we’re about 125 to 130 across the country with most of them here. We’ve been growing about 50 to 60 percent the past couple years and I would expect to do at least that this year."
(Carapezza) Before a ribbon cutting ceremony next winter, Tarrant says the mills’ windows, roof, heating and air conditioning all need repair. But speaking to his managers outside the mill, Tarrant says those upgrades are manageable. He hopes to make downtown Winooski a hub of technology.
(Tarrant) "We feel privileged we can put a little bit of a stamp on this property for its transition, so when someone else is here in a hundred years, saying the mill is still here, they’ll reiterate the companies and the services that the mill helped provide, and there will be a digital component to that."
(Carapezza) Kathy Decarreau is Winooski’s city manager. Her ancestors worked in the mill when it produced wool. She says renovating it is like modernizing your grandmother’s house.
(Decarreau) "There’s a piece of it that always has that feel like it’s something very familiar-no matter what the innards look like. It’s always home."
(Carapezza) MyWebGrocer won’t disclose how much it paid for the mill. But the company expects all that empty floor space to go to good use: it’s planning to double in size over the next two years.
(Shumlin) "Better get back to work because things are going to go to hell!"
(Jeff Downs) "We’re management — they’re not gonna miss us!"
(Shumlin) "Good to see ya!"
(Carapezza) Governor Peter Shumlin chats with company managers outside the mill. He says this is exactly the kind of investment that has made him so optimistic about Vermont’s economy.
(Shumlin) "This is an example of a building that was owned by an out-of-state real estate company. They were ready to throw their keys at the bank. These guys came in. They’re going to renovate it, fix it up, and this historic building – the Winooski Mills – is going to prosper and create jobs and revitalization in a downtown for the foreseeable future. That’s why our future in Vermont is so bright."
(Carapezza) MyWebGrocer will use the entire fifth floor of the mill, and the company says it will rent out the remaining space to other businesses.
For VPR News, I’m Kirk Carapezza.