By Tiffany Tan/VTDigger
One of Vermont’s biggest employers is poised to buy a portion of the former College of St. Joseph campus, where it’s planning to set up new offices, a training center and employee housing.
Casella Waste Systems signed a purchase and sale agreement with Heritage Family Credit Union last week to buy most of the college’s “main campus,” said Carrie Allen, senior vice president for marketing and business development at Heritage Family. The credit union holds the mortgage to the campus, which closed in the spring of 2019 after the college lost its accreditation.
The sale is expected to become final within the next few weeks, Casella Vice President Joe Fusco said. Both he and Allen declined to disclose the purchase price, a deal first reported by the Rutland Herald.
The area that Casella is set to buy encompasses four buildings on the eastern side of the campus, Allen said. Casella — which is headquartered just a mile away — intends to create additional offices and a centralized training center at the campus to support the company’s development plans.
Founded in Rutland in 1975, Casella said it employs 3,000 workers around the U.S., of which at least 300 are based in the city, and serves customers in 40 states. It is Vermont’s largest waste management company and operates the state’s only open landfill, in Coventry. The company aims to continue growing.
“This opportunity came to us, and it fit the vision for what we wanted to do,” Fusco said. “One of the most attractive aspects of it is that it is in the City of Rutland, so that we can more deeply root ourselves here.”
There’s also “strong consideration” within the company to build short-term employee housing on the campus, Fusco said.
The company, he said, could use the new space to temporarily house employees who come to Rutland for training and other work matters, as well as new employees who are looking for a permanent home in Rutland.
“Frankly, it might help us recruit the very best talent that we can find,” he said. Employers around the state have said Vermont’s tight housing market has hampered their ability to hire workers.
Rutland Mayor David Allaire said he was very pleased to learn on Thursday of Casella’s plans with the former college campus. He is hoping this corporate expansion would draw more workers to the city amid Vermont’s labor shortage and Rutland’s population decline.
“I think it also will attract other folks who see that a company of that stature is willing to invest in this community,” Allaire said, “and hopefully build up our population.”
Allen, of Heritage Family, said the credit union was also pleased to find a buyer such as Casella, which can contribute to the Rutland area’s long-term success and sustainability.
One other building in the former college’s main campus is now owned by the municipal government, which has housed the Rutland Recreation Community Center there since late 2019.
The western portion of the campus is still on the market, Allen said.