Food Commercialization Center in Ayden Moves Forward with State Budget Funding
AYDEN, N.C. — The Eastern North Carolina Food Commercialization Center (ENCFCC) is on its way to becoming a reality after securing recent funding from local and state sources. The North Carolina General Assembly designated $4 million to the proposed 24,000 square-foot commercialization center located in the Town of Ayden. The concept and vision for this center has been in the works for several years. The ENCFCC will provide essential food processing services for farmers, food manufacturers, and entrepreneurs in a seven-county region.
“On behalf of the Town of Ayden, I would like to express our appreciation to the Governor and North Carolina lawmakers in providing project funding which will assist in the building of the facility and obtaining equipment,” said Mayor of Ayden Stephen Tripp. “This center will create jobs and economic progress by fostering the growth of food processing and manufacturing to include entrepreneurial endeavors.”
ENCFCC, a nonprofit organization, will serve as a catalyst for growth of the food processing industry in eastern North Carolina. When it launches, the ENCFCC will have an immediate positive impact on the food and agricultural industries of Pitt, Lenoir, Greene, Wilson, Edgecombe, Martin, and Beaufort counties.
“We are excited about the opportunities that this center brings to our community,” shared Keith Purvis, project manager for ENCFCC and owner of Greenville Produce Company. “Our vision is for eastern North Carolina to become the epicenter of the food industry.
The total project is estimated to cost $8.8 million, which will cover the construction, outfit, and operation of the center for its first three years. The ENCFCC secured a $4 million contribution from the N.C. General Assembly and will also apply for additional grant funding from the United States Economic Development Administration, as well as other sources. The business model will enable the center to be self-sustaining beyond its first three years. In addition, the Town of Ayden has provided cash and in-kind support for the launch of the project and Pitt County donated the site for the facility’s future home on Elliott Dixon Drive in Ayden’s Worthington Industrial Park.
“Pitt County is pleased to see the Town of Ayden’s Food Commercialization Project now in a position to move forward. As outlined in the Interlocal Agreement from 2015, it would be the County’s intent to transfer ownership of a 2.65-acre industrial site in the South Pitt Industrial Park for this venture,” said Scott Elliott, Pitt County Manager.
Economic developers in the region believe that the center will serve as a hub for entrepreneurship as well as an anchor for food processing and industry attraction.
“Building on our area’s agricultural roots, the center will provide added processing opportunities that are unique and innovative,” said Brad Hufford, vice president of business development for the Greenville Eastern North Carolina (ENC) Alliance. “We look forward to seeing the launch of food product companies as a result of the center and its resources.”
Kelly Andrews, director of Pitt County Economic Development, added, “Ayden and the ENCFCC board have worked diligently for years to bring this project to life. The State appropriation, and the support of those that pushed for the $4 million, ensures that the ENC Food Commercialization Center will indeed come to fruition and provide a great asset to Pitt County.”
In addition to the funding provided by the North Carolina General Assembly, the ENCFCC is made possible by the support of several collaborative partners across the region including the Town of Ayden, Pitt County Government, Greenville ENC Alliance, Greenville Produce Company, ElectriCities, East Carolina University, Miller School of Entrepreneurship at East Carolina University, NC State University, North Carolina Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, and many others.
There will be a kick-off celebration for the development of the ENCFCC on December 13 at 11am at Quilt Lizzy’s second floor event space located at 4260 S. Lee Street in Ayden. Community leaders and elected officials, including U.S. Representative Greg Murphy, M.D. (NC-03), will be in attendance. Learn more about the ENCFCC on its website: www.encfcc.com
This article was originally published on December 9, 2021 by the Greenville ENC Alliance.
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