PARKERSBURG – West Virginia’s only potato chip maker has received federal loan funding for renewable energy systems and other improvements.
On Tuesday, officials announced that West Virginia Potato Chip Co. LLC, maker of Mister Bee potato chips, has received $ 250,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for Rural Development.
The project includes a new warehouse, water recycler, new energy efficient deep fryer and potato washer, energy efficient lighting and other energy efficient appliances, said Mary Anne Ketelsen, owner of the potato chip business. The savings in energy and other costs will be more than $ 31,000 a year, she said.
The company’s long-term viability will also be improved, Ketelsen said. Previous installations have already improved operations and resulted in additional employees, she said.
“I’m very excited” She said.
The total value of the project is approximately $ 5.7 million, Ketelsen said.
Representatives from the company, the USDA and the West Virginia Economic Development Authority were at the plant on West Virginia Avenue Tuesday morning to announce the investment and tour the facility.
According to Steve Webb, director of financial services for the agency, the development agency invested approximately $ 2.6 million in the project through a low and fixed rate loan.
“We have gone to great lengths to support small businesses and agricultural producers in our mountain state,” said Kris Warner, USDA’s director of rural development in West Virginia.
“This program has enabled West Virginia scholars to select and upgrade their energy-intensive equipment and facilities, and also gives them the opportunity to invest in renewable energy resources.” he said.
For the Parkersburg plant, the energy savings will replace 43,527 kWh per year, enough electricity to power about two households, Warner said.
Mister Bee was founded in 1951 by Leo and Sara Klein on Mary Street in Parkersburg and then moved to West Virginia Avenue in 1962. Ketelsen and other owners bought the company in 2015.
The USDA’s Mister Bee funding is among $ 1.047 million to other West Virginia companies. Other recipients include Mo’s Mini Warehousing, Gladiator Allegiance, Green Bridge Properties, Mountain View Solar and Wind, Kenneth Point, Shane Sanderson, Sally Shepherd, Wood House Research, Samantha Jo Harper, Luscombe Industries and South Branch Inn.