Blue Ribbon Extraction, a company started by two Richmonders, is investing $3.26 million to establish Virginia’s first large-scale industrial hemp processing and cannabidiol (CBD) oil extraction facility in South Boston, Gov. Ralph Northam announced Thursday. The project will create 22 jobs and the company plans to source about $70 million in hemp — more than 90% of its expected supply — from Virginia farmers over the next three years.
The facility expects to process up to 5,000 pounds of industrial hemp per day. The company’s founders and primary investors, Richmonders Rick Gregory and Sterling Edmunds, are both natives of Halifax County and serve as co-chief executive officers for Blue Ribbon Extraction.
“Encouraging the development of new markets for Virginia farmers is one of our top priorities for growing the commonwealth’s agricultural economy,” said Governor Northam. “I am pleased to see that industrial hemp continues to create opportunity and economic vibrancy in rural Virginia, and I congratulate Halifax County, Blue Ribbon Extraction and all other partners involved in bringing this important new processing capacity to our commonwealth.”
“We look forward to partnering with farmers to establish a local market for a new agricultural crop right here at home in Halifax County,” Edmunds and Gregory said in a statement. “We currently have 1.2 million pounds of hemp under contract with farmers for the 2020 growing season. With the support of our partners in Halifax County and the town of South Boston, Blue Ribbon is off to a great start and, at full capacity, has the ability to process 6 million pounds of hemp annually. Approximately $10 million will be invested in bringing this project to reality for Southern Virginia.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Halifax County, the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), South Boston, the South Boston Industrial Development Authority and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance to secure the project. Northam approved a $200,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which is being matched by the Halifax IDA to assist with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission’s Agribusiness Committee also committed $250,000 to the project. Blue Ribbon Extraction 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 VEDP’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program.