For Immediate Release: March 18, 2015
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Brian Coy, (804) 225-4260, Brian.Coy@governor.virginia.gov | Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Contact: Elaine Lidholm Phone: 804.786.7686 Email: Elaine.Lidholm@vdacs.virginia.gov

Governor McAuliffe Announces Expansion of Specialty Potato Chip Production Facility in Shenandoah County

 

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Route 11 Potato Chips  will expand its existing potato chip production facility in Shenandoah County.  The company will invest more than $1.2 million and create 13 jobs in Mount Jackson, while sourcing nearly half of its new potato and sweet potato purchases from Virginia agricultural producers.  The Commonwealth is partnering with Shenandoah County and Route 11 on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund. 

Speaking about the announcement in Mount Jackson, Governor McAuliffe said, “Route 11’s expansion and the new jobs being created represent another win for the Shenandoah Valley and the Commonwealth’s agricultural producers and entrepreneurs.  My administration is committed to utilizing fully our diverse agricultural industry, one of the Commonwealth’s greatest assets, to help build a New Virginia Economy.  By partnering with Route 11, we can help create jobs in Virginia and, through our strong domestic and international marketing efforts, help move products made in Mount Jackson to stores around the country and in the global marketplace.  Those sales generate more economic opportunities right here at home.” 

Relocating from Maryland to Virginia in 1992, Route 11 has built a reputation for producing quality, kettle-cooked potato chips with unique flavors and a company focus on sustainability.  Route 11 will install a second production line in its current facility to meet increased demand for its potato chips, particularly increased orders of its sweet potato chips, from major grocery chains and wholesale distributors.  The company sources chipping potatoes from Virginia and beyond, while sourcing 100% of their sweet potatoes from Virginia. 

“Route 11’s investment is great news for Shenandoah County, our agricultural producers, who are capitalizing on new and expanding markets for their harvests, and the Virginia’s Finest® program,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore, who represented Governor McAuliffe at the announcement in Mt. Jackson.  “Virginia has long been a leader in the specialty food and beverage sectors and Route 11 has been a pioneer in this effort.  Today, Route 11’s entrepreneurial spirit makes it a model for the role that agribusiness will play in creating the New Virginia Economy. Its focus on high-quality products, agritourism, local sourcing, and sustainability make it a perfect recipient for an AFID grant.”  

Route 11’s success has made it a flagship brand for the Virginia’s specialty food industry.  Thanks to its active participation in the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) Virginia’s Finest® specialty food and beverage program, Route 11 has received domestic and international exposure through dedicated trade and marketing representatives in Virginia’s network of global trade offices. 

“The AFID grant could not have come at a better moment for us,” said Sarah Cohen, Co-owner of Route 11 Potato Chips.  “We’re making a sizable investment to install a second production line, and the AFID grant and county matching funds will help ensure that we ramp up production to meet the demands of our growing customer base.  This expansion and the new jobs being created are exciting for Route 11, and we are extremely grateful to Shenandoah County and the Commonwealth of Virginia for their support of the project.” 

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with Shenandoah County to secure this expansion for Virginia.  Governor McAuliffe approved a $50,000 grant from the AFID Fund to assist Shenandoah County with the project.  Route 11 Potato Chips is also committing to purchase more than 1.5 million pounds of potatoes and sweet potatoes from local producers, supporting existing agribusinesses in the region. 

Speaking about the announcement, Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors Chairman David Ferguson said, “On behalf of Shenandoah County, I am very pleased that we are able to partner in the continued success of a thriving food manufacturing firm, which has not only gained a national recognition and market, but has added to the cultural value of our County.” 

Speaking about the announcement, Senator Mark Obenshain, R – Harrisonburg said, “I am pleased to be a part of Route 11’s expansion in Mount Jackson, as both a consumer of its terrific products and a strong supporter of the AFID program.  Agriculture is Virginia’s largest private industry and I believe we need to do all we can to facilitate more growth in this important economic sector, especially in the Shenandoah Valley.  Thanks to Route 11 working in partnership with the Commonwealth and Shenandoah County, we have another business utilizing Virginia-grown products and providing more opportunities for our farmers.” 

According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, agriculture and forestry are two of Virginia’s largest private industries with a combined economic impact of $70 billion annually.  Agriculture generates more than $52 billion per annum, while forestry generates more than $17 billion.  The industries also provide more than 400,000 jobs in the Commonwealth.  More information about the Weldon Cooper Center’s study can be found at http://www.coopercenter.org/node/2/publications/economic-impacts-agriculture-and-forestry-virginia-revised-2012

About the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund

The AFID Fund was created during the 2012 session of the General Assembly and is being embraced by the McAuliffe Administration as an important tool in growing the Commonwealth’s agriculture and forestry sector and helping to make Virginia the leading exporter of agricultural and forest products on the East Coast.  More information about the AFID grant, which has the flexibility to assist projects large and small throughout Virginia, can be found at http://www.vdacs.virginia.gov/agribusiness/afid.shtml.

Since the beginning of the McAuliffe administration, 338 economic development deals have been closed in Virginia with more than $6.19 billion in capital investment, more than twice the amount of capital investment brought to the Commonwealth in any Governor's first 14 months in office.

 

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