RICHMOND, Va. — Governor Ralph Northam today announced that AeroFarms® will invest $42 million to build their largest, most sophisticated indoor vertical farm to date in Cane Creek Centre, a joint industrial park for the City of Danville and Pittsylvania County. AeroFarms uses proprietary aeroponic growing technology to produce highly flavorful leafy greens at a rate 390-times more productive than field-grown plants. Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina for the 150,000-square-foot facility, which will create 92 new jobs.
“AeroFarms is a leader in agricultural innovation with farming technologies that make high-quality, local produce available to more communities,” said Governor Northam. “We are bringing capital investment and economic opportunity to rural Virginia by recruiting innovative companies like AeroFarms. I thank the company for choosing Virginia for this important venture and commend Danville-Pittsylvania County for helping to secure this project.”
Founded in 2004 and headquartered in Newark, New Jersey, AeroFarms is a mission-driven company committed to growing the best plants possible with processes that use significantly less water and no pesticides, while offering extremely high levels of food safety. By hiring locally and creating year-round employment, AeroFarms is able to grow all year to nourish its communities with high-quality produce that delivers optimal nutrition and flavor.
“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private sector industry, and the Commonwealth continues to be on the forefront of agricultural advancements,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “I look forward to working with AeroFarms as they expand the use of agriculture technology to strengthen Virginia’s food system and provide increased access to healthy foods.”
“AeroFarms has an important objective to ensure our growing population has year-round access to healthy food, and we are proud to support its first Virginia operation in Danville-Pittsylvania County,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The company’s decision to establish a vertically integrated facility in the Commonwealth is a strong testament to the advantages of our location and transportation and logistics infrastructure, which attract industry-leading companies from around the world seeking expansion into new markets. We welcome AeroFarms to Virginia and look forward to our future corporate partnership.”
“We are excited to expand to Virginia, an incredible state with a strong farming tradition, and we have been honored by the amazing reception at all levels,” said David Rosenberg, Co-Founder and CEO of AeroFarms. “We want to thank everyone for helping bring our tenth and largest, most advanced indoor vertical farm to life to create new jobs and increase access to healthier foods with better flavor. We are also excited about the future collaboration opportunities with The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research to build on our work with Fortune 100 companies to solve broader ag-related supply chain issues.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Pittsylvania County, the City of Danville, and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance to secure the project for Virginia. Governor Northam approved a $200,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund and a $200,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, to assist Danville-Pittsylvania County with the project.
The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission has approved a grant for $190,000 from the Tobacco Regional Opportunity Fund for the project. AeroFarms qualifies for state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding and services to support the company’s job creation will be provided through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (VJIP).
“We’re pleased that AeroFarms has selected the Cane Creek Centre for their new mid-Atlantic facility”, said Robert “Bob” Warren, Vice-Chairman of the Danville-Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority and member of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors. “It is only appropriate that the largest county in the Commonwealth by land area will soon be home to the world’s largest and most advanced vertical farm. The region has placed a heavy emphasis on attracting technology-based agribusiness firms through strategic investments in our workforce, and we thank AeroFarms for their commitment to Southern Virginia and its people.”
“AeroFarms is a perfect example of how blending technology with agriculture can provide an environmentally responsible solution to growing nutritious food,” said Fred Shanks, Chair of the Danville Pittsylvania Regional Industrial Facility Authority. “Given the history and importance of agriculture to this region, I cannot think of a better place for AeroFarms to locate. We are delighted to welcome them to this great community.”
“The Tobacco Commission has always supported Virginia’s agriculture industry, the backbone of our state’s economy, and attracting AeroFarms to Danville-Pittsylvania County is a big win,” said Senator Frank Ruff, Tobacco Commission Vice-Chairman. “AeroFarms’ technologically advanced approach to farming is an example of how the industry is adapting to meet the demands of modern consumers and I am pleased that they chose to grow their business here in Southside Virginia.”
“It is exciting to see an innovative company like AeroFarms open their first Virginia location here in Southside,” said Delegate Danny Marshall, a Tobacco Commission member. “Attracting a company like this to our region shows that the effort we have put into developing a top-notch business climate is paying off. I welcome AeroFarms and their team to Danville-Pittsylvania County and wish them the best as they get hiring underway.”
–Elaine Lidholm, VDACS