State Grant to Aid Expansion, Add Jobs at Relay Foods in Cville
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (WVIR) -
Governor Terry McAuliffe stopped in Charlottesville Monday to announce state support for an online grocer's expansion in the city. A grant will help Relay Foods add jobs and invest in its facility on Carlton Road.
Governor McAuliffe announced a $50,000 state grant Monday that will support Relay Foods’ $735,000 expansion at the company's headquarters. Relay Foods expects the expansion will create 25 new jobs in the city.
“You want to grow the businesses that are already here in Virginia, help our small businesses grow, and we need to do it in new, exciting 21st century businesses,” said McAuliffe.
As part of the grant, Relay agrees to buy at least $350,000 worth of meats and produce from Virginia farms over the next three years. The state grant comes from the governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund.
“$50,000 goes a long way when you're a small business. That adds fuel to the tank to allow us to go and grow,” said Zach Buckner, co-founder and CEO of Relay Foods.
After handing over the customary giant check, the governor toured Relay's fulfillment center.
“When Charlottesville comes up with these new, creative ideas, other communities say, 'what worked here - we can do it as well,'” said McAuliffe.
The company launched in 2009 with its first customers in Charlottesville. It now delivers farm-fresh local foods and everyday grocery items to online shoppers in more than a dozen markets, including Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and Raleigh. Relay says it's adding more than 800 customers each week. McAuliffe credits Relay's innovative business plan and fast growth.
Buckner says Relay is eyeing expansions across the southeast after recently adding Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Office of Governor Terry McAuliffe Press Release
CHARLOTTESVILLE – Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today in the City of Charlottesville that Relay Foods (www.relayfoods.com) will expand its corporate headquarters and Charlottesville 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 $735,000, create 25 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 Charlottesville and Relay Foods on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID).
Speaking at the company’s site in Charlottesville about today’s announcement, Governor McAuliffe said, “We continue to realize the benefits of fully integrating agriculture and forestry into the state’s strategic economic development platform. Relay Foods’ announcement today not only creates quality new job opportunities for residents of Charlottesville, it strengthens the ties that this innovative and fast-growing company has to the Commonwealth. Supporting entrepreneurs with unique and exciting business models is another way for Virginia to grow and diversify our economy, especially with the variety of agricultural producers across the Commonwealth.”
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 expansion will allow the company to further meet the growing demands of its consumers.
“I am pleased to see the continued success of the AFID program working with localities and businesses such as Relay Foods, a company that is so focused on promoting Virginia’s fresh, locally-sourced agricultural products, to create new jobs at its operations 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 Charlottesville, will invest in updates to its Charlottesville corporate facility and fulfillment center, 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.
“Relay Foods has rapidly developed a new approach to putting food on the table here in Charlottesville and beyond” said Satyendra Singh Huja, Mayor of Charlottesville. “We are proud of the company’s success and its ability to deliver innovation to the marketplace."
Governor McAuliffe approved a $50,000 grant from the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund (AFID) to assist the City of Charlottesville with the project. Relay Foods is also committing to purchase at least $350,000 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.
“At Relay Foods, our goal is to strengthen the local food economy in every community we serve, and we have been able to grow and thrive in Virginia based on our strong partnerships with producers across the state,” said Zach Buckner, Co-founder and CEO of Relay Foods. “We look forward to using this AFID grant to continue exploring innovative ways to connect our customers with the fresh and local foods produced by Virginia growers and artisans.“
"Coming from bucolic Virginia, I know the importance of a strong agricultural supply chain and appreciate the dedication to local, small producers in this region," said Senator Creigh Deeds, D- Bath County. “The Governor’s continued support and partnership on economic development opportunities like the AFID program help communities across Virginia, and I am particularly pleased about the positive regional impact this announcement has today.”
Delegate David Toscano, D-Charlottesville, added, “Today’s announcement is a testament to the work the Governor and my colleagues in the General Assembly have done to diversify our economy and foster strong companies like Relay Foods in Virginia. Their continued investment in Charlottesville and the ripple effect to the agricultural community and regional customer base are an exciting win for Virginia today.”
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.
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