Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Relay Foods (www.relayfoods.com) will expand its Richmond fulfillment center to accommodate increased local demand for its products and to support the company’s entry into new markets, including those beyond Virginia. The company, a leading online grocery store and farmers market, will invest more than $710,000, create 75 new jobs in the City, and increase its Mid-Atlantic sales of Virginia-sourced meats, produce, dairy products, and value-added foods by $3 million over the next three years. The Commonwealth of Virginia is partnering with the City of Richmond and Relay Foods on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID).
Speaking at the company’s warehouse facility in Richmond about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “I am thrilled to announce the second expansion of Relay Foods, a company founded by entrepreneurs with unique and exciting business models. Relay Foods’ announcement today not only creates quality new job opportunities for residents of Richmond, it strengthens the ties this innovative company has to the Commonwealth. With this announcement we continue to realize the benefits of fully integrating agriculture and forestry, the state’s largest industries into our strategic economic development platform, helping to build a new Virginia economy.”
Relay Foods seamlessly integrates more than 200 local farmers and artisan, organic, and conventional producers to deliver high quality, local and gourmet foods and groceries directly to customers. The company offers a unique and powerful resource for small food producers in Virginia trying to access the market by providing ready access to consumers in the Washington, D.C., Richmond and Charlottesville metro areas. This second expansion will allow the company to further meet the growing demands of its consumers. In June, the Governor awarded a $50,000 AFID grant to the City of Charlottesville to assist Relay Foods in the expansion of its corporate headquarters and fulfillment center in Charlottesville.
"Relay Foods is not only increasing access to healthful foods, but also strengthening the Virginia agricultural economy,” said First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe. “I truly believe that innovative companies like these are what it will take to bridge the nutritional divide in Virginia."
“I am pleased to see the continued success of the AFID program working with rural and urban localities, such as Richmond, and businesses such as Relay Foods, a company that is so focused on promoting Virginia’s fresh, locally-sourced agricultural products, to create jobs at its fulfillment center and new revenue streams for our growers,” said Todd Haymore, Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry. “This project will allow Relay Foods to enjoy an even wider reach to markets where the exposure of Virginia-grown products will increase and Virginia’s agricultural producers will continue to benefit from new sales opportunities.”
The company, in partnership with Virginia and Richmond, will invest in updates to its primary warehouse, as well as a new warehouse it plans to build in 2016. The Richmond fulfillment center is the main location for the aggregation, storage, packaging and distribution of all local Virginia meat, cheese and dairy products. These improvements will strengthen the company’s competitive position in the fast-growing online grocery market.
“I am extremely pleased that Relay Foods has chosen to not only remain in Richmond, but expand their company's operations here,” said Dwight C. Jones, Mayor of Richmond. “Not only does Relay Foods provide fresh, locally-sourced foods to our residents, it is creating full-time, full-benefit jobs, increasing our tax base, and is proving, by its future plans of action to stay and grow in our city, that Richmond is an excellent choice for a company that relies on a central location and a strong transportation network.”
The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) worked with the Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) and the City of Richmond to secure this expansion for Virginia. Governor McAuliffe approved a $50,000 grant from the AFID Fund to assist the City of Richmond with the project. Relay Foods is also committing to purchase at least $406,000 worth of meats, produce, dairy products and other foods from Virginia producers over the next three years. Through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program, Relay Foods will receive additional funding and services to support its training and retraining activities.
"One key to Relay Foods' success across Virginia has been establishing a network of talented, dedicated local producers in every market we serve," said Arnie Katz, co-founder and President of Relay Foods. "We look forward to investing this AFID grant in our ongoing efforts to build innovative approaches that connect local Richmond growers and food artisans with enthusiastic customers."
“With agriculture being Virginia’s largest industry, we need to do all we can to facilitate more growth opportunities in this increasingly important economic sector and that’s what we’re doing today, said Senator John Watkins, R-Midlothian. “Relay Foods is a great example of the type of company my General Assembly colleagues and I envisioned supporting when we approved the creation of the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund. Providing economic development opportunities for the City of Richmond and the Commonwealth through their innovative business model and their agricultural producer supply chain is a testament to the success of this tool.”
Delegate Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, added, “Today’s announcement with Relay Foods is an exciting win for the City of Richmond and the Commonwealth. In addition to the positive economic impacts this project will bring, this company is a shining example that the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and can thrive in our region. It’s also good to see agriculture, which is traditionally viewed as a rural industry, making such a positive impact in a urban setting.”
According to a 2013 economic impact study conducted by the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at the University of Virginia, agriculture and forestry are two of Virginia’s largest industries with a combined economic impact of $70 billion annually. Agriculture generates more than $52 billion per annum, while forestry induces over $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.dof.virginia.gov/print/econ/2013/weldon-cooper-Economic-Impact-Of-Ag-Forestry-2013.pdf.
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.