State funding secured, Ayden prepares for food processing plant | Local news

People who have worked for years to bring a food processing plant to Ayden are planning a development launch celebration on Monday, now that the state has approved the funding.

The State General Assembly has designated $ 4 million for the planned 24,000-square-foot eastern North Carolina food marketing hub in a long-delayed state budget approved on last month and signed by the governor.

Ayden executives started developing a concept for the center in 2017. The plan is for the non-profit establishment to offer a wide range of services, including collecting and preparing fresh produce for sale and offering space for preparing and packaging value-added food products, such as sauces or pickles.

The facility can help small food producers bring a product to market and grow until they can move into their own facility, hopefully in Ayden, Mayor Steve Tripp said at the start of development. .

The Greenville ENC Alliance announced Thursday that the facility will provide essential food processing services to farmers, food manufacturers and entrepreneurs in a seven-county region.

When launched, the center will have an immediate impact on the food and agricultural industries of Pitt, Lenoir, Greene, Wilson, Edgecombe, Martin and Beaufort counties, the alliance said.

“On behalf of the Town of Ayden, I would like to express our gratitude to the governor and lawmakers of North Carolina for funding projects that will assist in the construction of the facility and the procurement of equipment,” said Tripp said in the press release. “This center will create jobs and economic advancement by fostering the growth of food processing and manufacturing to include entrepreneurial initiatives.”

“We are excited about the opportunities this center brings to our community,” said Keith Purvis, Project Manager and Owner of Greenville Produce Company. “Our vision is for eastern North Carolina to become the epicenter of the food industry.”

The total project is estimated at $ 8.8 million, which will cover the construction, equipment and operation of the center for its first three years, the statement said. In addition to the state’s $ 4 million contribution, the center will seek additional funding from the US Economic Development Administration and other sources.

The business model will allow the center to be autonomous beyond its first three years. In addition, the town of Ayden provided cash and in-kind support for the start of the project and the County of Pitt donated the site of the future home of the facility on Elliott Dixon Drive in the Worthington Industrial Park of ‘Ayden, not far from the old Minges Group Bottling plant.

“Pitt County is pleased to see that the Town of Ayden Food Marketing Project is now in a position to move forward. As stated in the 2015 interlocal agreement, the county reportedly intends to transfer ownership of a 2.65 acre industrial site in the South Pitt Industrial Park for this business, ”said Scott Elliott, county manager. by Pitt.

Economic developers in the region believe the center will serve as a hub for entrepreneurship as well as an anchor for food processing and industry attraction.

“Building on the agricultural roots of our region, the center will provide additional processing opportunities that are unique and innovative,” said Brad Hufford, vice president of business development for the Greenville ENC Alliance. “We look forward to seeing the launch of food businesses thanks to the center and its resources. “

Other partners in the effort include ElectriCities, East Carolina University, Miller School of Entrepreneurship at East Carolina University, NC State University, State Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, and many more.

The kick-off celebration will take place at 11:00 am in the event space on the second floor of Quilt Lizzy, 4260 S. Lee St. in Ayden.

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