Speaking about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “I am pleased to announce Seven Hills Foods’ new investment in Lynchburg, which creates new jobs and provides an important new market for agricultural producers across the state. It also allows a long-shuttered meat processing facility to come back to life, generating additional tax dollars for Lynchburg and new revenue streams for the region. Indeed, this operation and its statewide impact represent the type of investments we continue to leverage to build the New Virginia Economy and capitalize on the significant economic impact that Virginia agriculture has throughout the Commonwealth.”
Seven Hills Food will invest in the building improvements and equipment needed to renovate the former Dinner Bell Meat processing facility in Lynchburg into a medium-scale, beef and pork processing facility. When complete, the facility will be one of the largest beef and pork processing operations in Virginia. Seven Hills Food will fill an important meat processing role for producers across the state, processing meat for its own label and private labels, in addition to providing custom processing services to larger customers.
“Seven Hills Food’s new investment in Lynchburg is a game-changer for our Virginia beef and pork producers, addressing the scarcity in the market for local meats and processing facilities,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. “This operation will provide a major new custom processing option for producers in the region and bring an important part of Virginia’s meat processing infrastructure back to life, creating an asset for the industry for decades to come. I’m pleased the Governor’s AFID Fund could support the project and Lynchburg’s commitment to it.”
Seven Hills Food owner Ryan Ford stated, “My vision to give consumers across the state better access to the beef and pork raised here in Virginia has come to life today thanks to the tremendous support of the City of Lynchburg and Governor McAuliffe’s economic development team. It’s been exciting to work with these partners to transform a venerable plant into a state-of-the-art facility, and we’re looking forward to working with Virginia producers and becoming operational in summer 2015.”
The new investment will allow Seven Hills Food to operate an advanced, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspected meat processing and packaging facility with a mission to supply demand for locally-raised, produced, and processed healthy food products. The company is committing to 100 percent Virginia-grown sourcing for its entire operation, with intended purchases of 12,000 Virginia cattle and hogs over the next three years. The Virginia cattle, calf, and hog industries generate almost half-billion dollars alone in farm cash receipts.
“This project not only breathes new life into a long-shuttered facility but also introduces a new company to Lynchburg, injecting millions in capital investment and machinery and tools,” said Mike Lucado, chair of the Lynchburg Economic Development Authority. “The AFID grant and matching funds from the Lynchburg Economic Development Authority will support a complete and comprehensive renovation of the facility so that it can operate efficiently and under USDA inspection for the next chapter of its life.”
“This project will redevelop a one hundred year old property into a state-of-the art processing and packaging facility, unlocking Virginia’s local meat processing bottleneck,” said Michael A. Gillette, mayor of the City of Lynchburg. “Seven Hills Food will establish the City of Lynchburg as a major force in Virginia’s local food economy and support synergy business opportunities for food processing and distribution in the Hill City.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) worked with the City of Lynchburg to secure this expansion for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe approved a $250,000 grant from the AFID Fund to assist the City of Lynchburg with the project. Additional funding and services to support the company’s employee training activities will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program, administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. The company is also eligible to receive state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
Speaking about the AFID grant’s impact for Seven Hills Food, Delegate Kathy Byron, R – Lynchburg added,“This important investment represents the types of opportunities we’re seizing to diversify our region’s economy. Leveraging existing assets with our strong and historic agricultural base allows us to reap the benefits of critical new jobs, workforce training, and enhanced markets for our Virginia-grown products.”
Senator Tom Garrett, R – Louisa said, “I’m pleased to see these new jobs and this investment coming to the 22nd District in an innovative facility. It is also rewarding to work alongside Governor McAuliffe’s team to bring jobs to the Lynchburg region.”
According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, agriculture and forestry are two of Virginia’s largest private industries with a combined economic impact of $70 billion annually. Agriculture generates more than $52 billion per annum, while forestry induces over $17 billion. The industries also provide more than 400,000 jobs in the Commonwealth. More information about the Weldon Cooper Center’s study can be found at http://www.coopercenter.org/node/2/publications/economic-impacts-agriculture-and-forestry-virginia-revised-2012.