RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Smiley’s Ice Cream, a producer of premium, homemade-style ice cream, will build a new ice cream manufacturing facility and retail store in Rockingham County, investing more than $1.15 million and creating eight new jobs. As part of this expansion, the locally-owned company will source an additional 18,000 gallons of Virginia-produced dairy and an additional 2,500 pounds of Virginia-grown fruits over the next three years.
“We are delighted to support this expansion by Smiley’s Ice Cream, a business that has found its sweet spot by bringing together entrepreneurship, Virginia-grown ingredients, and agritourism in the Shenandoah Valley,” said Governor Northam. “The company’s commitment to investing in Virginia farmers and agricultural products will further strengthen this rural economy and create exciting new opportunities in Rockingham County for visitors and residents alike.”
Established in 2001, Smiley’s Ice Cream uses the finest local ingredients, including milk and cream sourced exclusively from neighboring Mt. Crawford Creamery, to churn up more than 80 specialty flavors that are offered 16 flavors at a time. The company sources fruits from Shenandoah Valley farmers, and makes many of their mixed-in ingredients in house, including fresh-baked brownies, hand roasted pecans, and homemade caramel. Founder Derek Smiley has grown his operation from serving at the Harrisonburg Farmers Market using old-fashioned, wooden ice cream buckets into a successful specialty ice cream and catering business serving the region. Building on this success, Smiley’s opened its first brick-and-mortar facility next to Mt. Crawford Creamery in 2017. Located less than a quarter mile west in the Town of Bridgewater, the new facility will allow Smiley’s to more than double production, increase storage, and offer patrons additional parking and expanded seating areas, both indoors and out.
“Through their commitment to sourcing local fruits and 100 percent of their dairy products from Virginia, Smiley’s is ensuring that their success also supports Virginia’s agricultural community,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I am pleased we could partner with Rockingham County through the AFID program to support this expansion and increase market opportunities for Shenandoah Valley farmers.”
“Smiley’s Ice Cream is very grateful to receive this grant from Rockingham County and the Commonwealth,” said owner Derek Smiley. “This grant will help with the building of a truly one-of-a-kind ice cream destination for the Town of Bridgewater. We take great pride in supporting Virginia’s local farms by purchasing locally many of the fresh fruits used to make our ice cream and understand the fresh milk and cream coming from Mt. Crawford Creamery is the backbone of our great ice cream.”
The Commonwealth is partnering with Rockingham County and the Rockingham County Economic Development Authority on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). Governor Northam approved a $20,000 grant from the AFID Fund to secure the project for Virginia, which Rockingham County will match with local funds.
“Smiley’s Ice Cream is a great Rockingham County original sweet treat,” said Chairman of the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors Billy Kyger. “It is absolutely one of my favorite spots to eat ice cream, which is the best in the Valley! I applaud the company’s commitment to local agriculture and using locally produced ingredients.”
“The Town of Bridgewater is thrilled to have a high-quality, family-oriented business like Smiley’s Ice Cream locate in Bridgewater,” said Bridgewater Town Mayor Ted Flory. “We look forward to the grand opening of their new facility!”
“Thanks to Smiley’s Ice Cream for working in partnership with the Commonwealth and Rockingham County, we have another small business here in the Shenandoah Valley expanding and providing more job opportunities,” said Senator Mark Obenshain. “As a strong supporter of our agritourism industry and the AFID program, I am pleased that Smiley’s is a recipient of this grant.”
“I am so incredibly proud of Derek and his team and am excited to celebrate their continued growth and success,” said Delegate Chris Runion. “Smiley’s commitment to quality and Virginia agriculture is to be applauded. Having won multiple state and regional awards, Smiley’s and Virginia knows that the freshest and best ice cream comes from Shenandoah Valley cows, cream, and farmers.”
–Michael Wallace, VDACS