Columbia, SC (STL.News) Agriculture Technology Campus, a joint venture project between Mastronardi, Clear Water Farms, LiDestri Food and Drink and GEM Opportunity Zone Fund, announced plans to establish a state-of-the-art 1,000-acre agriculture technology campus in Hampton County. The combined $314 million investment is expected to create more than 1,500 new jobs over the next five years.
The Agriculture Technology Campus will include greenhouses for locally grown, pesticide-free tomatoes, leafy greens, blueberries and other produce; a 150,000-square-foot distribution center; and a co-packing facility. This announcement marks one of the largest agriculture investments in South Carolina history.
LiDestri Food and Drink, a leading food, beverage and spirits co-packing company, will lead the co-packing facility. This facility will allow both campus growers and other South Carolina farmers to process produce, making items such as salsa, pesto and other products. LiDestri Food and Drink will handle the processing, packaging, shipping and logistical needs for the Agriculture Technology Campus.
This controlled environment food production model helps meet the demand of grocery chains and consumers for fresh and reliable produce. The model of growing and sourcing locally grown foods helps ensure food supply chain security, which has been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic, and minimizes operating expenses through co-location.
The operations will be located at the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus within an Opportunity Zone – a program created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which encourages economic development and job creation in economically distressed communities.
The Coordinating Council for Economic Development (CCED) approved job development credits related to the Agriculture Technology Campus. The CCED also approved a $7 million Rural Infrastructure Fund (RIF) grant to Hampton County to assist with costs related to this project.
Related to LiDestri Food and Drink, the CCED approved job development credits and a $1 million RIF grant to Hampton County.
The campus is expected to be operational in 2022 with full operation expected by 2025. Individuals interested in joining the Agriculture Technology Campus or LiDestri Food and Drink team should visit www.agtechcampus.com.
“This future-focused partnership will continue the strong agricultural legacy in Hampton County. The Agriculture Technology Campus will use recycled rainwater to irrigate our greenhouses and provide all Carolina farmers access to our state-of-the-art co-packing facility. This helps pave the way for citizens to visit their local grocery stores, where they will be able to purchase pesticide-free, locally grown produce. I am thrilled to be part of this innovative group looking to grow high-quality agriculture across this great state.” -GEM Opportunity Zone Fund CEO Zeb Portanova
“Mastronardi is a family-owned business that pioneered the commercial greenhouse industry in North America in the 1940s, and today, we are the largest vegetable greenhouse operator on the continent with more than 5,000 acres of controlled environment productive growing capacity. The prospect of partnering with the GEM Opportunity Zone Fund, Clear Water Farms and LiDestri Food and Drink to create a state-of-the-art agricultural campus is exciting for our company and for the entire industry.” -Sunset Grown VP and General Counsel David Einstandig
“The opportunity to bring jobs, fresh produce and investment to rural South Carolina, while partnering with some of the best companies in locally grown produce, is very exciting. We are thrilled to be part of this partnership and look forward to the opportunities the co-packing facility will bring to the local community. The innovation and vision of our partners will positively affect the South Carolina agriculture industry for decades to come.” -LiDestri Food and Drink CEO Stefani LiDestri
“Clear Water Farms values their strong relationship with Mastronardi and the Sunset brands. We are excited to bring locally grown, pesticide-free leafy greens like lettuce, arugula and basil to over 50 million Americans throughout the Southeast. Now, with this Agriculture Technology Campus, we are excited to bring the art of growing, co-packing and distribution together and make South Carolina a leader in Controlled Environment Agriculture.” -Clear Water Farms CEO Jim Campbell
“Every job created in a rural community affects a family and improves their quality of life. Today’s announcement that the Agriculture Technology Campus and LiDestri Food and Drink are locating in Hampton County is a tremendous win for the local community and our state as a whole. Congratulations on these expansive operations, and we look forward to their growth in the years to come.” -Gov. Henry McMaster
“Agribusiness is a true homegrown industry in South Carolina. We are thrilled to welcome the Agriculture Technology Campus and LiDestri Food and Drink to Hampton County as they join our state’s growing network of agribusiness-related companies and suppliers. This combined $314 million investment and the more than 1,500 jobs it will bring to one of our rural communities will make a significant economic impact throughout our state.” -Secretary of Commerce Bobby Hitt
“The Agriculture Technology Campus’ investment in South Carolina agriculture is transformative, creating jobs in the Hampton County region and future opportunities for South Carolina farmers. A Controlled Environment Agriculture project of this scale will conserve land and water and offer South Carolinians more chances to buy local produce grown here in the state.” -Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers
“The Agriculture Technology Campus is a ‘game changer’ for Hampton County, and we thank them for investing in our people. Hampton County will continue to take an aggressive approach to creating the best business environment for companies like the Agriculture Technology Campus, and we value our economic development partnership with SouthernCarolina Alliance, the SC Department of Commerce and the Department of Agriculture. This is what it’s all about – good jobs and a better quality of life.” -Hampton County Council Chairman Clay Bishop
“It is a great day in Hampton County! The Hampton County economic development team, through the Hampton County Economic Development Commission and SouthernCarolina Alliance, has worked for many years to bring a project of this size to Hampton County, and more than 1,500 jobs and $314 million in investment brings much needed growth to our county. We want to welcome the Agriculture Technology Campus to Hampton County and look forward to working with the company to bring a brighter future to our citizens.” -Hampton County Economic Development Commission Chairman Bill Hager
“The Agriculture Technology Campus is a tremendous project that will have a huge impact on our region because of the sheer number of jobs and investment. We are equally excited about the partnership that made the Agriculture Technology Campus possible. These are fine companies that have global reach and are utilizing state-of-the-art technology in growing, processing and distributing. We believe this project will lead to many additional opportunities for our region in terms of research and development, as well as processing, manufacturing and distribution.” -SouthernCarolina Alliance Chairman Marty Sauls