Shenandoah Processing, LLC, a newly-formed, locally-owned company located in Harrisonburg, Virginia, will reopen a former Pilgrim's Pride poultry processing facility, creating 102 new jobs and revitalizing poultry production in the region.
During the three-year project, Shenandoah Processing will invest more than $2.2 million in capital improvements and purchase an additional $160 million of Virginia grown poultry from Virginia growers over the next three years. The Shenandoah Processing facility will serve the growing market for organically raised and "all-natural" chicken.
Gov. Bob McDonnell said, "Shenandoah Processing is a tremendous example of the entrepreneurial underpinnings of Virginia agriculture. Starting first as a poultry grower, Shenandoah Processing owner Corwin Heatwole is building on his experience in opening a processing facility that will provide a new market for other growers and create jobs in the Harrisonburg area."
Shenandoah Processing will provide processing services for Shenandoah Valley Organics, a poultry growing operation also started by Mr. Heatwole. In addition, the facility will provide custom processing services to individual farmers and growers who wish to have poultry prepared for retail sale. The facility will offer five end products: whole birds, boneless breasts, leg quarters, paws, and basic cut-up.
The facility start-up will involve Shenandoah Processing leasing the facility and up-fitting with processing equipment. The facility will go from processing approximately 20,000 birds a day in year one to 30,000 birds a day in year two to 50,000 birds a day in year three.
"Through this project, Shenandoah Processing is adding further diversity to Virginia's number one agricultural commodity - poultry," said Todd P. Haymore, Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. "The Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development program is once again fulfilling its mission of encouraging further development of agricultural and forestry processing facilities while providing new opportunities for Virginia's agricultural producers. The additional capital investment and job creation at the re-started facility is outstanding for Harrisonburg. I am especially pleased about Shenandoah Processing's commitment that practically 100 percent of the poultry processed at the facility will be from Virginia growers. The local agricultural economy in Rockingham and surrounding counties will benefit greatly from having this new operation come online."
Shenandoah Valley Organics will work with poultry growers in the Central Shenandoah Valley to source their birds for Shenandoah Processing, targeting production of almost 11 million, high-quality, organic chickens in the first three years. In many instances, growers will be able to use existing poultry houses that are currently out of production in order to serve the new demand. By year three, Shenandoah Processing is expecting to require the full-time use of 106 poultry houses and provide opportunities for up to 70 farmers, the Governor’s Office said.
The President of Shenandoah Processing, Corwin Heatwole, said, "We believe there is a significant demand for certified organic/humanly raised chicken products. This awareness will only increase. We are excited to be bringing this project to the Valley and know it will help create a source of income for many families here in the Valley. One of the most important parts of this project is the life that will be brought back to many poultry houses that are currently out of production. We greatly appreciate the support that has been felt from locals, Harrisonburg, and the State."
The Governor’s Office said the economic ripple effect of activities at Shenandoah Processing will be substantial in the surrounding community. New poultry production will result in greater demand for equipment providers, poultry veterinarians, farm hands, feed suppliers and other operations that support the substantial poultry industry in the Shenandoah Valley.
Harrisonburg Economic Development Director Brian Shull added "Shenandoah Processing will be repurposing an idle processing plant that has been off-line for many years. Bringing this facility back into production, along with significant capital investment and new job creation, makes this a very important announcement for Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley Partnership."
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with the City of Harrisonburg to help make the project a reality. Governor McDonnell approved a $50,000 matching grant from the Governor's AFID Fund to assist Harrisonburg with the project. The project is receiving additional assistance through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.