The City of Waynesboro was presented Wednesday with a check for $25,000 from an Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) grant to invest in a new business in the former Virginia Metalcrafters building.
“The greatest brass company of the 20th Century,” said Waynesboro Director of Economic Development and Tourism Greg Hitchin. Virginia Metalcrafters created authentic reproductions to be used at Virginia’s new tourist attraction: Colonial Williamsburg.
The 17,000-square-foot Virginia Metalcrafters building “help put Waynesboro on the map” with a retail outlet where visitors could see the showroom.
Common Wealth Crush Co. is owned by Patt Eagan, and Ben and Tim Jordan of Swoope.
Now, the building is “reinventing itself as a new center for commerce,” Hitchin said. But it is also a “reinvention of the city of Waynesboro,” and an “important plot in the new quilt that will make up” the River City.
Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr said he has the best job in the governor’s cabinet, because he gets to see new projects like Common Wealth Co.
He pointed out that October is Virginia Wine Month and the wine industry in the Commonwealth continues to grow. Virginia is no. 5 in the United States for grape production with more than 300 wineries. Tourism is no. 2 in Virginia.
“Certainly, agriculture and tourism go hand in hand,” Lohr said.
The AFID grant provides assistance based on jobs creation, and has funded more than $1.2 billion in Virginia agriculture in 10 years, according to Lohr.
“It really is one of the most rewarding parts of my job to work with folks who have vision, who have desire and that tenacity,” Lohr said.
Common Wealth will use grapes that are 100 percent grown in the Valley, and will be a “tremendous asset to a lot of farmers here in the Valley.”
Del. John Avoli immigrated to the U.S. when he was 10 years old. His family owned a winery in Italy.
“The heart and soul of any community is the refurbishment of old buildings,” Avoli said. Common Wealth “will enhance the entire Valley” and Waynesboro.
Waynesboro Mayor Bobby Henderson welcomed Common Wealth Crush to the River City.
“We continued to grow through the pandemic,” Henderson said of the city during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lana Williams, vice mayor of Waynesboro, said the area was called Basic City and known for its contributions to industry, commerce and manufacturing.
“What a great day for Waynesboro,” she said. The area will thrive again with the presence of new businesses.
Eagan said that Common Wealth Crush was a “long time dream of ours.” He expressed the company’s founders’ gratitude toward the city and others who made it possible.
“And a very hearty thank you to the city of Waynesboro…for supporting our vision and what we’re trying to do,” Eagan said.
Tim and Ben Jordan’s family owns a grape farm in Swoope, and Eagan began his career in wine at age 21. The Jordans “are carrying on their own family tradition.”
On the National Historic Registry, Eagan said the Virginia Metalcrafters building is still owned by those who work with their hands, and he and the Jordans are “honored” to carry on the tradition and “to create Common Wealth for all producers.” They hope to open a tasting room in the spring.
Common Wealth will invest $1.5 million into the building and create six jobs.
“During October, we celebrate Virginia Wine Month and the many positive impacts that our world-class vineyards and wineries bring to the Commonwealth,” Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a press release Wednesday. “From the more than 10,000 jobs the industry has created to the more than 2.64 million tourists visiting our wineries each year, Virginia’s wine industry contributes so much to our economy and quality of life. I am delighted to see continued investment in the industry and congratulate the owners of Common Wealth Crush for their commitment to bring even more great wines and wineries to the state.”
The city will match the funds provided by the AFID grant. This is Waynesboro’s first AFID award.