The Hall County School District announced Tuesday it will receive $2.5 million from the State of Georgia's supplemental budget for a new meat processing plant.
Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said the plant will provide the school district with several opportunities.
"Number one, the meat processing center will provide a very lucrative career pathway for high school students that want to learn that trade," said Schofield. "Number two, we hope to be able to provide a dependable and local source of protein, not only for community members, but also for the approximately 25,000 meals a day we serve in the Hall County School District. And then number three, what a great outlet for local farmers."
Schofield referenced a recent shortage in protein products due to supply chain demands and the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons why the plant is so important.
The plant will be built on the same property as the school district's current agribusiness education center on Cleveland Highway. Currently, the school district already has cattle, poultry and bee hives at the center.
While the plant is still in the design phase, Schofield said it will include several areas that focus on different parts of meat processing.
"There will be a meat laboratory in there for teaching purposes and if groups of people want to come from other organizations and see the process, that will act as a teaching area where people can come in and see the backside of meat production," said Schofield. "It will have a tasting kitchen and a meeting room where people can get together. And a storefront, where hopefully at some point, at least a day or two a week, our students can sell to the general public."
Schofield said money from the federal CARES Act will also help pay for the plant. He applauded the help from State Representatives Lee Hawkins and Terry England in securing funding at the state level.
"I want to thank Representative Hawkins, who was locally pushing it hard down at the state, and Chairman England, who's over appropriations and immediately saw the value in this," said Schofield. "We just hope that not only does it serve Hall County, but maybe it can become a model for the entire southeast."
Schofield said the goal is to finalize the design for the plant and break ground in the summer of this year.