CANADA-BASED COMPANY TO BUILD $105 MILLION GREENHOUSE IN MIDDLE GEORGIA; CREATE 200 PLUS JOBS
A Canada-based company plans to invest $105 million in building a 75-acre high-tech greenhouse complex in Peach County and grow tomatoes and cucumbers year-round.
Pure Flavor plans to break ground in September on the huge high-tech greenhouse complex that will include a distribution center on a 130-acre site on Ga. 96 between Brock and Joiner roads about 5 miles from Interstate 75.
The project would be built in three phases of 25 acres each, and it is expected to create more than 200 jobs over five years, said Chris Veillon, chief marketing officer for Pure Hothouse Foods Inc. Pure Flavor is a brand of Pure Hothouse.
Although the company has long-term contracts with a number of growers and more than 650 acres of greenhouses it manages, the Fort Valley facility will be Pure Flavor’s first company-owned greenhouse outside its Leamington, Ontario, Canada, facilities, he said.
The first phase of greenhouses is expected to be completed by the middle of next summer and plants should be ready to pick by early to mid-fall 2018, he said. The greenhouses are expected to need 25-75 workers for that first phase. The second phase would begin in 2019.
“The leadership (of the company) has been looking for the last two years for a site that would allow us to grow,” Veillon said. It needed to be close to its retail customers.
“We can reach 80 million (people) in a 24-hour drive from the (Peach County) facility,” he said.
The 130-acre site is currently planted with row crops, said B.J. Walker, executive director of the Development Authority of Peach County.
The state economic development office first brought the project to the attention of the authority about a year ago, Walker said.
“We didn’t know who they were until the last three or four months,” he said. “It will be an over 3-million-square-foot facility.”
The state and county didn’t have to offer many incentives to attract Pure Flavor, he said.
“We got a good deal,” he said. “They got some incentives as far as getting utilities to the site, but we are not doing a tax abatement. … We looking at probably a half million dollars in new tax revenue on average annually. It’s probably the biggest deal in Peach County in 20 or 30 years, since Blue Bird (school bus company). It’s probably the second largest taxpayer.”
Walker said company officials told him that Pure Flavor chose this location for several reasons including being close to I-75 and having an electric transmission line running through the property where they could build a substation.
“They are a tremendous power user with all the lights that are required to run this facility,” Walker said. Also, company officials “said we seemed more eager and responsive to the project than some communities. … If they would have known it was a $105 million investment, I’ll bet they would have been interested in it.”
The company will be using water from agriculture wells, which is another reason it picked this area, he said. The operation won’t use as much water as some might think, because all the water is self-contained and recycled.
“They use a fraction of the water to produce what they produce compared to a row crop,” Walker said.
The distribution area for produce grown at the greenhouses includes Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and Texas.
“It will be largest facility of its kind in the southeastern USA,” the company’s statement said.