Route 11 Chips expansion underway

Route 11 Chips has begun work on a $1.1 million project to upgrade its Mount Jackson facility with a second production line and an expanded warehouse.

Sarah Cohen, founder and co-owner of the company, said the project officially got underway last month with construction of the warehouse expansions.

She said they have completed about one-third of the warehouse expansions, and are hoping to begin work on the production line in January.

The expansion project is the first for the company since it moved to Mount Jackson in 2007. On Tuesday, Cohen indicated that the company is looking to ramp up production to keep pace with rising demand.

“It just keeps growing. We’ve gotten to the point where we can’t afford not to do this,” she said.

With only one production line running at the moment, Cohen said the company cannot afford glitches that could halt production for an extended period of time — and cost the company a setback upward of $100,000.

“Also, you make a lot of people mad because they can’t get their product, so you can hurt relationships, lose money and you lose credibility,” Cohen said.

“People don’t have a lot of patience for that, so we want to be able to make sure that can deliver what we promise to deliver,” she added.

The company announced its expansion plans on March 18, after it received a total of $100,000 in grants from the state to jump-start the project.

On Tuesday night, the Mount Jackson Town Council voted unanimously to approve a refinancing of debt that Route 11 Chips owed for opening up shop in 2007.

The refinancing stems from $4 million in tax-exempt revenue and revenue refunding bonds issued to Route 11 and Small Fry Inc. through the Mount Jackson Economic Development Authority.

Attorney Daniel Lauro, of the firm Botkinrose, said the bonds essentially take the town “off the hook,” as Route 11 will assume all responsibility in paying back the debt.

Lauro also said the refinancing could possibly give Route 11 a lower interest rate through Summit Bank and will free up more money for the $1.1 million project.

He said they are not sure exactly how much additional money the refinancing will give the company at the moment.

Cohen likened the expansion project to “trying to build an airplane while you’re flying.”

One of the concerns that Cohen and the company have is the possibility that the construction will result in delays in production.

“There will be days when we will not be able to cook because we’re wiring something … but hopefully we’ll man it so that those will be kept at a minimum,” she said.

The expansion project will create an estimated 12 new jobs for the company once it is complete.

“There will be production jobs, maintenance and probably administrative,” Cohen said, noting that the position will become available closer to the project’s end.

Cohen said she does not have an exact date in mind for when expansion will be complete.

“It’s going to be a very intense project,” she said. “Every day we’re trying to do something toward it so that hopefully it will be up and running this time next year.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or

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