Racine Co. works to keep Echo Lake Foods as an employer

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BURLINGTON (WITI) -- FOX6 News has learned Echo Lake Foods plans to rebuild in Burlington following an eight-alarm fire last week that destroyed a portion of the food plant. There is also word the company may expand in the future.

The Racine County Executive told FOX6 News state and local officials are working on an incentive package for Echo Lake Foods so the business can come back from a devastating fire -- and remain one of Burlington's largest employers.

"The company has indicated it would like to stay and rebuild at the Burlington. That obviously is good news for Racine County and in particular, the Burlington community," said Racine Co. Executive James Ladwig.

Earlier on Monday, February 4th, state officials expressed their concern for the company and workers.

"It's incredibly unfortunate. Our hearts, our prayers go out to the folks affected by the fire, the families who are wondering, what now?" Wisconsin Lieutenant Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch said.

About 60% of the 300 Echo Lake Foods workers are without jobs right now.

There is still an intact warehouse on the north side of the property. But County Executive Ladwig says some of the unemployed could go to work at the company's Franksville location.

Meanwhile, state Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson said DWD and the Racine County Workforce Development Center have scheduled Rapid Response orientation sessions for affected workers for Wednesday, February 6, at Veterans Terrace, 589 Milwaukee Ave., Burlington.

Workers are encouraged to attend one of three sessions scheduled at the following times: 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Bilingual staff will be present to assist Spanish speaking workers.

The Rapid Response services are part of the DWD-administered Dislocated Worker Program, which serves workers who become dislocated when a business ceases operations or begins mass layoffs.

The orientation sessions include instruction on how to file for Unemployment Insurance benefits as well as a description of job services available, from help searching for work to training assistance to improve existing skills or provide new job skills for a different occupation.

Wisconsin invests nearly $55 million annually serving approximately 35,000 dislocated workers in various programs. 

Affected workers can also contact their local Job Center to inquire about services by visiting http://www.wisconsinjobcenter.org/directory or toll-free at 1-888-258-9966.