MANCHESTER - A Vermont favorite is moving production back to town. Wilcox Premium Ice Cream received a $20,000 grant from the Working Lands Enterprise Initiative from the Vermont Department of Agriculture to help start construction on their new manufacturing plant.

Chris Wilcox, said they are currenlty driving to Hardwick, VT to manufacture the ice cream.

"A lot of people don't know, [right now] it's a 19 hour day to produce the ice cream," she said. "We take all the raw materials, drive to Hardwick. . . Six and a half hours of driving alone. Our time could be spent much more constructively."

Wilcox said after their manufactoruing plant was lost in a fire in 2001, the business had to look at other ways to stay afloat. Right now, along with producing 56,000 gallons of ice cream a year, they also became a distributor of various different other frozen food brands.

"I had to grow the resale side of the business," she said. "We're a huge distributor of hundreds of items."

The company was helped in the grant application process by Wendy Woods Hartwell at the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation and Brian DeClue from the Small Business Development Corp.

Wilcox said it was determined the ice cream company was a good fit for the grant because of how it would impact the supply chain in the state, like how much milk they could use from Vermont cows.

"If we were able to produce ice cream five days a week, we could use all the milk produced annually from 350 cows," she said.

Right now, Wilcox Ice Cream only has one day of producing ice cream in their current location.

With the grant, they will be able to manufacture five days a week in the former K & E Plastics building across the street from Green Mountain Power.

Wilcox said the grant will help get the construction process started, but will not cover the whole project. To make the space ready for production, Wilcox said that there needs to be plumbing upgrades, as well as building a blast freezer - where the ice cream is placed after it is made - and moving the ice cream machinary into the structure.