Agribusiness Henderson County successfully landed BrightFarms, a new high-tech greenhouse project that will bring investment of $21 million and 54 new jobs to Henderson County.
BrightFarms produces hydroponically grown leafy greens like kale, basil, spinach, green and red lettuce. This will be their sixth farm in a mission to bring food to people that tastes better, is healthier and better for the environment.
Agribusiness Henderson County (AgHC) Executive Director, Mark Williams said, “We’re honored and excited that they chose to grow their operation here and welcome BrightFarms as the newest member of our agribusiness family.”
BrightFarms’ Project Developer Sean O’Neill scouts sites across the country but found Hendersonville to be a top runner due to the climate, growing conditions, community, and the local economic development program.
O’Neill said, “You have the ideal climate for greenhouses, with the right altitude, moderate temperatures, excellent sunlight and I would note that you have the cleanest water that we tested, anywhere.”
These qualities, in addition to the location being uniquely situated to grow, pack and ship commodities to market, have also played a part in the county’s other recently acquired agricultural businesses such as Lakeside Produce and Tri-Hishtil. 80% of the U.S. population lives within an 8-hour drive of Henderson County.
O’Neill added, “This closing would not have happened without Mark Williams and AgHC. I scout all over the world, and Henderson County is the only community that has a local agribusiness office. And I haven’t been anywhere where the head of that office picks you up at the airport and shows you 18 properties in the first day and guides you every step of the way; from permitting to grant opportunities to utilities to distribution opportunity meetings. It’s remarkable and a real credit to the county for its foresight to have that office.”
In addition to a performance-based state grant of $55,000 from the One North Carolina Fund, the project qualified for $530,348 in incentives from Henderson County.
“The Agribusiness Board and the Henderson County Commissioners’ willingness to assist us has been incredible and we look forward to this partnership,” said O’Neill.
At full production the BrightFarms greenhouse will be 280,000 square feet and produce up to two million pounds of leafy greens each year. Williams said, “BrightFarms fits like a glove in Henderson County, which already has several greenhouses and produce suppliers making it an agricultural hub to the Southeast. The county is top in the state for tomatoes, sweet corn and apples, so production of salad greens will be a great complement.”
NC Gov. Roy Cooper praised the company for its commitment to protecting natural resources while boosting the economy. “Agriculture has always been a strong driver in North Carolina, and BrightFarms’ expansion is good for our state," he said in a news release.
Agribusiness Henderson County is a public and privately funded non-profit organization with a mission to promote the economic development of agribusiness in Henderson County, NC. For more information, visit www.agrihc.org.