Gov. Ralph Northam recently announced the expansion of the Premier Tech horticulture plant in King and Queen, creating 20 new jobs.
Northam, along with Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Westmoreland, Del. Keith Hodges, R-Urbanna, and other state and local officials attended an economic announcement ceremony at the Mattaponi plant Thursday.
Premier Tech, a global horticulture and agriculture company, will invest $1.89 million to expand the peat moss and pine bark mixing and distribution facility, according to a news release from Northam’s office.
Northam approved a $75,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund and a $75,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund to help with the expansion.
The company also received a $12,000 subsidy from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program and a sales tax exemption on production equipment purchases. Total financial support is estimated at more than $300,000 for the $1.89 million investment project, according to a news release from Premier Tech.
At the ceremony, Northam said his administration is passionate about economic development in rural areas and is grateful for the partnership with Premier Tech.
“Agriculture and forestry is the number one industry in the commonwealth of Virginia,” Northam said. “Bringing more of those jobs to our commonwealth is key.
“I always hear people say, ‘I’m from the Eastern Shore or Middle Peninsula,’ we need more people that say ‘I live, work and raise my family in rural Virginia.’ That means we need to bring more jobs to rural Virginia.”
Northam said the expansion was a true team effort between his office, state agencies, the county and Premier Tech.
Wittman said the county has the opportunity to use its natural resources by bringing more value to them with more job and business opportunities.
“To see a company building off of the natural resources and building a workforce for the future in one of our rural counties is great,” Wittman said.
Wittman also said the key to bringing more business opportunities to Virginia is to provide more workforce and career technical training to students.
“Workforce development is key and is the future for our children and communities,” Wittman said.
Any new technical jobs you can bring to any rural community is crucial, according to Hodges.
“Premier Tech has been a great partner,” Hodges said. “When you have a global leader like Premier Tech investing in a rural community, that truly makes a difference in the lives of so many people.”
Premier Tech CEO Bernard Bélanger said the company is excited to expand and bring more jobs to King and Queen County.
“We are proud to announce this modernization expansion for our horticulture and agriculture plant in Mattaponi,” Bélanger said. “We are looking forward to our future here in Virginia.”
King and Queen Board Supervisor Lawrence Simpkins said the county could not be more pleased about the expansion.
“This will grow our tax base, bring jobs to our citizens and grow our market for our local suppliers of wood products,” Simpkins said.
State officials in attendance included Deputy Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Brad Copenhaver and Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development Cassidy Rasnick, as well as other officials from the Virginia Department of Forestry and Virginia Economic Development Partnership.
Local officials in attendance included Sheriff John R. Charboneau, school district Superintendent Dr. Carol Carter, county administrator Thomas Swartzwelder and members of the Middle Peninsula Alliance.
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership, King and Queen County, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality worked together to secure the expansion, according to the news release.
Premier Tech acquired and invested $2.5 million into the Mattaponi plant in 2016. The Canadian company focuses on horticulture and agriculture, industrial equipment and environmental technology such as greenhouse production and wastewater treatment. The company has four other locations in the United States and in 25 other countries, according to the news release.
Luck can be reached at 757-291-2038, firstname.lastname@example.org or @ashleyrluck on Twitter