I am pleased and honored to have received an appointment by the Speaker of the House of Representatives to serve on the state’s new Food Processing Innovation Center Advisory Committee, representing food manufacturers . This initiative came out of the NC Food Manufacturing Taskforce, which was formed to come up with strategies for economic development efforts for the industry of food and agricultural products. The new committee will be comprised of 14 members including the NC Commissioner of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, Dean of NC State’s College of Agriculture and Life Science, President of the Golden L.E.A.F. Foundation, President of Economic Development Partnership of NC, President of the Community College System Office, an Agricultural Economist and other appointees by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

General information about the Food Processing Innovation Center can be found in a video from Dean Rich Linton, NCSU-CALS by clicking HERE. Additionally, a recent article on the initiative can be found HERE.

To be selected as one of the few representatives from the mountain region of North Carolina gives a greater sense of responsibility. Through efforts of Henderson County’s own local initiative in economic development of agribusiness (Agribusiness Henderson County - AgHC), we have already enjoyed many growth opportunities. It is estimated that with recent growth, agribusiness now contributes approximately $650 Million to our local economy and employees over 7,000 people. In the past 6 years we have seen the addition of two wineries, three cideries, significant expansion of two major produce companies, added storage facilities and markets for apples, berries and produce, formation of an international greenhouse operation, a new dairy-creamery and growth of many other farm and ag-related operations. AgHC’s hope is the new Food Processing Innovation Center will provide beneficial research to our existing operations and assist in further growth and development for the industry.

Bill 257 Section 10.24.(b) lays out key goals for the Committee, which are particularly exciting for AgHC. One goal that we find especially important and that should benefit our farmers and agribusinesses states, “Increasing the use of North Carolina produced ingredients, agricultural products, equipment, and other products of food manufacturers located in this State.” AgHC has had this key goal for Henderson County since it began operating in 2006 and we will now have the opportunity to advance it with the support of a statewide initiative and benefit of new research facilities. Having a voice on the Advisory Committee is definitely a blessing.

- Mark Williams

Executive Director, AgHC