Homestead Creamery in Franklin County plans a $1.1 million expansion aided by a first-ever state grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund.
As a result of the expansion, the company, based in Burnt Chimney, will hire 20 additional employees, almost doubling its full-time work force, and increasing its purchase of Virginia agriculture products by almost $1.5 million.
The General Assembly created the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund during the 2012 session at the request of Gov. Bob McDonnell.
“Homestead is just the type of company for which this program was built, one that can take the high quality agricultural products Virginia has to offer and turn them into value-added products consumers are seeking,” McDonnell said in a statement. “I’m certain the AFID will provide further growth opportunities for Virginia’s diverse agricultural economy, the commonwealth’s largest industry.”
The governor approved a $60,000 AFID grant to assist Franklin County with the project. Matching money is being provided through a $45,000 grant from the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund, administered by the Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, and a Franklin County grant of $30,000.
The creation of the AFID was part of the governor’s jobs creation and economic development agenda during the last legislative session.
Funded at $1 million in each year of the biennium, the AFID is broken into two categories with $750,000 going to large grants to assist local efforts in expanding current or attracting new agriculture and forestry processing facilities using Virginia-grown products and $250,000 dedicated to small grants to assist localities in improving local economic development efforts relating to agribusiness.
The three-year Homestead expansion project will add warehousing and cold storage space and production capacity for new dairy products, including cheese, yogurt and sour cream. The new production lines and processing capacity will enable the company to balance its milk supply and increase the volume and variety of products offered through all of its distribution channels. Homestead projects that more than 45 agricultural producers in the commonwealth will be impacted by the project as a result of increased production at its operations.
Homestead is a producer and distributer of bottled milk, ice cream and other dairy products. It also maintains a store featuring Virginia products at its production facility in Burnt Chimney. The company distributes to a number of grocery and specialty stores, college dining facilities and also maintains home delivery service of its products and local produce.
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