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Governor Announces Produce Packing Facility

Governor Announces New Produce Packing Facility
Posted on 10/28/2021
By: Sylvia Allen, Editor
ALBERTA – There was a feeling of excitement in the air on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021 as elected officials and guests gathered to celebrate a new product processing and packing facility planned for the I-85 Business Center Park. Governor Ralph Northam and his staff attended to make the announcement and joined in the celebration.
Speakers were Rebecca Spengler, Acting Mayor of Alberta; Dr. Barbara Jarrett Harris, Chair, Brunswick County Board of Supervisors; Bettina K. Ring, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry; Governor Northam, Delegate Roslyn Tyler, Alfreda Jarrett Reynolds, Director of Economic Development for Brunswick County; Jordan Brandon, Member, Southern Virginia Vegetable Packing, LLC; and Gloria Meryweather-Woods, Chair, Brunswick County Industrial Development Authority.
The Governor’s office announced that Southern Virginia Vegetable Packing, LLC has partnered with Brunswick County Industrial Development Authority to construct a new, 45,000 square-foot, $4.2 million produce processing and packing facility.
Old Dominion Organic Farms, a member of Southern Virginia Vegetable Packing, will operate the facility. Over the next three years, 40 new jobs will be created and the facility is expected to process nearly $24 million Virginia-grown vegetables, approximately 80 percent of which will be certified organic. The new facility will support more than 22 farmers located in Amelia, Brunswick, Dinwiddie, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Prince George, and Surry Counties during its first season.
Spengler said it was a very special day for Brunswick County and the surrounding area and she was very pleased to be part of the celebration.
Dr. Harris said it was a good day for Brunswick County and on behalf of her colleagues she also expressed appreciation to all of the people who worked on making the project come to fruition.
Ring said she loves visiting Southern Virginia, especially Brunswick County and appreciates the friendships formed with the IDA and the Tobacco Commission. She emphasized the important part agriculture plays in Virginia’s economy, ranked number one, bringing jobs and contributing millions in revenue. Ring said forestry ranks third and is another driving force in the local economy. She said the state just recently celebrated Farm Safety Week and thanked farmers for their contributions. Ring said farmers have faced many changes in agriculture over the last few years, some good and some challenging. She said farmers have been forced to make hard decisions. Ring credited Jordan Brandon for his commitment to find new markets, especially for organic products.
Ring said many of the decisions farmers made and are making will affect the next generation. She said it takes faith and courage and stressed the importance of working together, saying it really takes a village. Ring said this project is an excellent example of a public, private partnership.
Governor Northam praised the elected officials for their leadership emphasizing the many hours of work and time that goes into projects like the one being celebrated. He said when he was in the Senate Brunswick Stew Day at the Capitol was a highlight of the legislators and they always looked forward to enjoying Brunswick stew. He said he often stopped by the tent to “stir the pot.”
Governor Northam said he grew up on a 75-80 acre farm on the Eastern Shore that grew corn, soybeans and wheat. He thanked the farmers for their contribution and said jokingly that when he was farming he didn’t enjoy an air-conditioned cab with music.
Governor Northam the unavailability of broadband access was critical and he hoped everyone would have access by 2024.
Governor Northam credited the public/private partnership saying the project has the potential to be transformative. He said the decline of tobacco that has dropped by half since 2000 is prompting farmers to look into alternatives. He said one alternative is organic farming, an industry that has exploded over recent years.
Governor Northam said the number two industry in Virginia is tourism.
He thanked Mike Dotti with the Brunswick IDA for his work on the project.
Governor Northam thanked Delegate Tyler for representing her district well. He said having seniority in the House of Delegates is very important and he called attention to her serving as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.
Tyler thanked the Governor for his kind remarks. She stressed the importance of public, private partnerships and said it was exciting to see an industry come to the industrial park. Tyler thanked the Tobacco Commission for investing $500,000 in the project.
Tyler said she has visited Jordan Brandon’s farm and found growing organic produce eye-opening. She said the climate changes in California have the potential to make the area the organic capital of the U.S. creating jobs. Tyler said small businesses are the foundation of our economy and essential to Southside Virginia. Tyler said Governor Northam understands what farmers are dealing with and she thanked him for his support for rural communities.
Reynolds said this was indeed a great day for Brunswick County, saying Brunswick County is a location of choice. She said while she has served as Director of Economic Development for only a short time, she has been busy fulfilling the Vision 2035 set by the Brunswick County Board of Supervisors. She said she works closely with Mike Dotti and they speak on the phone often. Reynolds too stressed the importance of partnerships and closed by saying this was an exciting day.
Brandon said it has taken a lot of people working together to make this project a reality. He expressed appreciation for those who worked on the project and stressed the importance of working together. Brandon said he looks forward to marketing organic products.
Menyweather-Woods said she was grateful to be a part of this project. She agreed that agriculture is part of our heritage and she is excited about marketing new products. Menyweather-Woods said there is still much work to be done and thanked everyone for their hard work.
Menyweather-Woods offered a blessing. Moseley’s Country Store provided a delicious lunch.
For more information call the Brunswick County IDA office at (434) 848-0248 or Jordan Brandon at (804) 899-0260 .