Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Blue Ridge Aquaculture will invest $3.2 million to expand its aquaculture operation in Henry County and create five new jobs. Founded in 1993, Blue Ridge Aquaculture is the largest producer of aquaculture-raised tilapia in the world using an environmentally sensitive, indoor recirculating system; producing 4 million pounds of tilapia a year and shipping between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds of live tilapia each day.
“The success of Virginia’s agriculture industry is a testament to the diversity and quality of its products, as well as their outstanding reputation in the global economy,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I applaud Blue Ridge Aquaculture’s continued investment in Henry County and their expansion speaks to the high-quality seafood and marketplace success of the company. We will continue to support projects and products that diversify our agriculture industry, build the new Virginia economy and contribute to the Commonwealth’s reputation as the best place to do businesses around the world.”
Virginia is the nation’s third largest seafood producer and the largest on America’s Atlantic coast. In addition, Virginia is ranked 10th nationally in aquaculture production. Virginia’s watermen harvest 50 commercially valuable species from 620,000 acres of water, including sea scallops, blue crabs, striped bass, summer flounder, croaker, spot, clams and oysters. The Virginia Institute of Marine Science reported the annual economic impact of Virginia’s seafood industry to be over one half of a billion dollars.
“Blue Ridge Aquaculture’s expansion represents another positive step for Virginia as we reinforce our reputation as a key player in the nation’s seafood sector,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Basil Gooden. “Aquaculture production represents an opportunity for Virginia to capitalize on the need to feed a growing population with limited resources. We are lucky to have an innovative company like Blue Ridge Aquaculture as a member of the agriculture community in Virginia.”
The Commonwealth is partnering with Henry County and Blue Ridge Aquaculture on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). Governor McAuliffe approved a $50,000 grant from the AFID Fund to assist with the project, which Henry County is matching with local funds. The company was also awarded a grant from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. In addition, the company is receiving a Real Property Investment Grant through the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program, administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
“This expansion is a significant step in our future growth plans, and will maintain Blue Ridge Aquaculture’s leadership position in the industry. We would like to thank the Commonwealth of Virginia, the Tobacco Commission, and Henry County for their support of our project,” said Bill Martin, President and CEO of Blue Ridge Aquaculture. “This support is a reflection of their recognition of the importance of aquaculture, and the opportunity to supply a clean, healthy, and environmentally sustainable seafood. I would also like to thank the dedicated employees at Blue Ridge Aquaculture, whose hard work has allowed our company to be so successful.”
“Blue Ridge Aquaculture is a leader in its field, and we are proud to have the company here in Henry County,” said Jim Adams, Chairman of the Henry County Board of Supervisors. “This is a great day for all of us.”
“Bill Martin and Blue Ridge Aquaculture are leaders in their field, and believe in our region and our people,” said Senator Bill Stanley, member of the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. “This is an exciting day with the expansion and continued investment of Blue Ridge Aquaculture in Henry County. I am confident that Blue Ridge Aquaculture will continue to play a major role in the economy of Southside and Southwest Virginia in the years to come.”
“It is great when a thriving local business like Blue Ridge Aquaculture expands with a $3.2 million investment in its current Henry County location to produce food for aquaculture, rather than bringing it in from another state,” said Delegate Danny Marshall. “It creates new jobs and helps grow the economy locally. The positive effect reaches even further. It will receive grains from across Virginia, thus helping not only our region, but strengthening the Virginia rural economy. We are fortunate to have Blue Ridge Aquaculture in our district and wish them great success with the expansion!”