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State Business Roundup: Echo Lake Foods decides to rebuild

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BURLINGTON - The mayor of Burlington says Echo Lake Foods has decided to re-build, after a fire last week that destroyed the plant's production area.

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Bob Miller tells Milwaukee TV station WTMJ it would have been very costly for the company to move elsewhere - especially because 60-percent of the Burlington plant is still standing. Miller said an insurer has temporary custody of the site, as an investigation continues into what might have caused a blaze that started last Wednesday evening and burned for about 40 hours. State and local investigators are poring through the damage - and they say it could take weeks or months to identify a cause. Officials do not believe the fire was started on purpose. The building's warehouse was saved by a firewall. But Echo Lake's 300 employees are without jobs for now - and state workforce development officials will meet with the employees tomorrow to discuss their options. Among other things, they'll find out about applying for unemployment benefits.

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Wisconsin cheese-makers ended a busy year by increasing their production almost six-percent in December. New federal figures show that the Badger State made almost 245-million pounds of cheese in December - five-point-seven percent more than the same month in 2011. The increase was almost three times the national growth of two-percent. Wisconsin is the nation's top cheese producer. Second-place California saw its output go down by a half-percent in December, to about 195-million pounds. National cheese production for December was 949-million-pounds. Wisconsin's output of American cheese grew by 4.4 percent. The state also made four-point-one percent more Cheddar, and 2.3 percent more Italian cheeses.

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