Florida Organic Aquaculture opened what state officials herald as the largest closed-water, shrimp production center in the country, at a 180,000-square foot, $22 million facility that includes its production and research labs in Fellsmere, Florida. Governor Rick Scott’s Office estimated the project will generate 512 direct and indirect jobs in Indian River County and the surrounding Treasure Coast region.
The production facility encompasses or 4.13 acres, roughly the size of 3½ football fields. The shrimp are grown in an environmentally-safe, energy-efficient system and raised without any chemicals or preservatives. The fresh, never frozen shrimp are highly sought after by restaurants, charter shipping lines and grocery chains. The Governor’s Office said Florida Organic Aquaculture considered locating its facility in Croatia, Azores, Ecuador, Brazil, Texas and Alabama, but chose Indian River County because of the community’s available workforce and its access to consumer market for fresh shrimp.
“We are excited by the potential opportunities not only for employment but also for educational study in aquaculture. We are cultivating student internship programs, scientific field trips for school children, and community outreach for entrepreneurial endeavors,” said Clifford Morris, CEO/President of FOA. “Our collaboration with colleges and universities is profound. The economic impact that this project brings starts in Fellsmere, Florida, but will extend throughout the state and the country.”
President/CEO of Enterprise Florida, Gray Swoope said, “Florida Organic Aquaculture’s new production facility will provide a huge investment for Indian River County. The state’s extensive aquaculture industry is known around the globe and this location will further bolster the state’s reputation. This facility in Fellsmere will add value to our food and hospitality industry, and I am excited for the company’s future in our state.”
Partners that helped make the project successful include; Enterprise Florida,the City of Fellsmere,Indian River County Board of County Commissioners, the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce, Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity.
Support from the Florida Department of Transportation included an Economic Development Transportation Fund Grant, which is awarded to a local government on behalf of a business for public transportation improvements. The grant will be used to reduce transportation impediments and enable safe access to the production and research facility.
“We are thrilled to see this project come to fruition,” enthused Helene Caseltine, Economic Development Director with the Indian River Chamber of Commerce. “Florida Organic Aquaculture is a great catalyst for job creation and economic activity in Fellsmere and the entire region. The company has generated tremendous exposure for Fellsmere and our county, a perfect example of the success that can be achieved when business and government collaborate.”