Governor McAuliffe announces expansion of organic herb growing facility in Rockingham County

virginia-newGovernor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Shenandoah Growers, Inc. will expand its existing organic herb nursery greenhouse and production facility in Rockingham County.

The company will invest $6.7 million in its existing facility, significantly increasing production and growing sales by an estimated $15 million over the next three years, and create 15 new jobs.  In addition, Shenandoah Growers will invest $2 million to relocate its headquarters and create a finishing system at the new site.  The Commonwealth is partnering with Rockingham County and Shenandoah Growers on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund.

Speaking about the announcement, Governor McAuliffe stated, “The strength of the Commonwealth’s agricultural economy and its entrepreneurs is on full display at Shenandoah Growers.  This expansion, with its investment in innovative technology and new jobs being created, represent another economic win for the Shenandoah Valley.  My administration is committed to utilizing fully our diverse agriculture industry, one of the Commonwealth’s greatest assets, to help build the new Virginia economy.”

Founded in Virginia in 1989, Shenandoah Growers has built a national reputation for its high-quality organic, fresh-cut herbs, and the company’s now signature Living Organic Herbs brand. As it looks to future growth and business opportunities, Shenandoah Growers will install a new 78,000 square foot nursery greenhouse and other state-of-the-art technology in its current facility to meet increased demand for its products from major grocery chains.  In addition, the company will purchase an existing warehouse and office facility in Rockingham County, which it will renovate into its new headquarters.  That facility will also feature a new finishing system for its plants.  Shenandoah Growers’ Living Organic Herbs products are 100% Virginia-grown.

“Shenandoah Growers’ entrepreneurial spirit makes it a model for the role that agribusiness will play in building the new Virginia economy,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, who represented Governor McAuliffe at the announcement.  “The company has established itself as a significant player in Virginia agriculture through a reputation for technology, sustainability, and an innovative product line.  That reputation will be enhanced in this expansion as Shenandoah Growers implements a series of proprietary technologies to increase greenhouse production and improve the quality and yield of each plant produced.  These investments will fuel the company’s expansion into major markets across the Southern and Midwestern United States, bringing high-quality, Virginia-grown products to millions of Americans.”

“Shenandoah Growers’ commitment to producing 100% natural, organic, and sustainably-farmed fresh herbs benefits not only the Commonwealth, but consumers across the country as well,” added First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe, who also attended the announcement.  “Virginia is blessed to have a diversified agricultural economy that provides many wholesome commodities and food products, in addition to thousands of jobs.  Innovative companies like Shenandoah Growers are part of that diverse mix and help to add more flavor and taste options to the foods that feed and sustain us.”

Shenandoah Growers is already a significant player in Virginia agriculture with its 25-year history.  Through this expansion, the company’s Rockingham County facilities alone will generate an additional $15 million in sales over the next three years.  The increased sales will have a significant impact on the companies that supply Shenandoah Growers, the benefits of which will be felt throughout the Shenandoah Valley region.

“We are very proud to be agriculture entrepreneurs in Virginia and Rockingham County,” said Tim Heydon, Owner of Shenandoah Growers, Inc.  “Our AFID partnership exemplifies the commitment among agribusiness, Virginia and Rockingham County to secure and create jobs and ensure that the Commonwealth is at the forefront of agricultural innovation.  Rockingham County and the Commonwealth of Virginia have been fundamental to facilitating a business environment that inspires growth and job development and we are very thankful for the continued support.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services partnered with Rockingham County to secure this expansion for Virginia.  Governor McAuliffe approved a $100,000 grant from the AFID Fund to assist with the project and Rockingham County will provide a $100,000 cash match. Additional funding and services to support the companies employee training will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program, administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

“I am very proud that Rockingham County and Shenandoah Growers have been selected to receive this AFID facility grant,” said Michael Breeden, Rockingham County Board of Supervisor’s Chairman.  “This grant further demonstrates the Commonwealth’s on-going commitment to supporting our local businesses and farms, which is essential to our agricultural community.  Shenandoah Growers has been an integral part of the agricultural landscape in Rockingham County for over 20 years and is truly an innovative small business story.  The company has grown to become one of the nation’s leading providers of fresh herbs to retail grocers and we are proud they call our community home.”

Speaking about the announcement, Senator Mark Obenshain, R – Harrisonburg said, “Thanks to Shenandoah Growers working in partnership with the Commonwealth and Rockingham County, we have another expanding business creating Virginia-grown products and providing more opportunities for our farmers.  As a strong supporter of the AFID program, I am pleased to be a part of this new expansion.”

Delegate Todd Gilbert, R – Woodstock added, “Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley are home to many thriving agriculture based businesses, and I’m happy to be a part of Shenandoah Growers’ continued growth.   Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry and we should do all we can to encourage more development in this vital economic sector, especially in the Shenandoah Valley.”

According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, 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 generates more than $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.

About the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund: The AFID Fund was created during the 2012 session of the General Assembly and is being embraced by the McAuliffe Administration as an important tool in growing the Commonwealth’s agriculture and forestry sector and helping to make Virginia the leading exporter of agricultural and forest products on the East Coast.  More information about the AFID grant, which has the flexibility to assist projects large and small throughout Virginia, can be found at http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/agribusiness/afid.shtml.



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