Gov. Ralph Northam on Thursday afternoon announced that BRD Extraction LLC, doing business as Blue Ribbon Extraction, will invest $3.26 million to establish Virginia’s first large-scale industrial hemp processing and cannabidiol oil extraction facility in the town of South Boston.
The project will create 22 new jobs and the company has committed to sourcing over 90% of hemp purchases from Virginia growers, resulting in more than $70 million in payments to Virginia farmers over the next three years. Using state-of-the-art equipment, the company expects to be able to process up to 5,000 pounds of industrial hemp per day, primarily grown by local farmers, most of whom are current or former tobacco farmers.
“Encouraging the development of new markets for Virginia farmers is one of our top priorities for growing the Commonwealth’s agricultural economy,” said 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.”
“There has been tremendous growth in Virginia’s industrial hemp industry, creating new opportunities for rural communities to thrive,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “By locating this large processing facility in an emerging geographic center of industrial hemp production, Blue Ribbon Extraction will create a local market for the crop, addressing one of the biggest challenges currently facing the industrial hemp industry in Virginia.”
“We are proud to welcome Blue Ribbon Extraction to Halifax County and the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The hemp industry represents exciting opportunities for Virginia farmers, and I am confident Southern Virginia will provide a topnotch workforce for the hemp industry to grow and succeed.”
This project was made possible by a strong partnership of private sector leadership and public sector support involving a broad coalition of economic development allies. The company’s founders and primary investors, Richmond residents Rick Gregory and Sterling Edmunds, are both natives of Halifax County and are committed to bringing new jobs and economic opportunity to their home county.
“We look forward to partnering with farmers to establish a local market for a new agricultural crop right here at home in Halifax County,” said Co-Chief Executive Officers, Sterling Edmunds Jr. and Rick Gregory. “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 and Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Halifax County, the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority, the Town of South Boston, the South Boston IDA, and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance to secure this project for the Commonwealth. Governor 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.
“This is a great day for Halifax County, and the growth of the hemp industry in our region is just beginning,” said Hubert Pannell, chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors. “The county’s early participation to help implement and sponsor the Industrial Hemp Summit has paid off with the location of Blue Ribbon Extraction. We are very excited to have these community partners in Halifax and look forward to their many successes in the industry. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Halifax County IDA for their never ending efforts to secure this project.”
“I’m very pleased to see this project get underway so that Southern Virginia is prepared to take advantage of all the opportunities this emerging industry will create,” said Ed Owens, mayor of South Boston and a member of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. “The industrial hemp industry has the potential to create many jobs and increased income for our farmers in the coming years and I look forward to seeing this facility up and running.”
“It is exciting to see the hard work of all parties come together on this project, which will be an asset for the region,” said Senator Frank Ruff. “Everyone has worked hard to make hemp a viable crop for the farmers of the region. This is a major step forward.”
“I am pleased that Blue Ribbon Extraction has chosen Halifax to set up shop for hemp processing,” said Delegate James Edmunds II. “I know that the owners want to see Southside Virginia flourish and offering hemp producers a location to sell their raw product is one way to help keep farmers on their land and make a profit. My sincere thanks go out to them for investing in the future of Southside Virginia.”