$59.6M hydroponic operation coming to Va. Beach
One of the East Coast's largest greenhouses, it will create 155 jobs
Agriculture startup Sunny Farms LLC plans to build a $59.6 million, 32-acre hydroponic operation in Virginia Beach — creating 155 jobs and one of the largest greenhouses on the East Coast, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced Tuesday.
The facility, which will cover 1.2 million square feet when completed in three years, will be located at Taylor Farms off Dam Neck Road, south of the Oceana Naval Air Station and approximately six miles west of the beach.
The company’s cofounders, veterans Jim Arnhold and Wayne Zinn, worked with the School of Plant and Environmental Science at Virginia Tech and other industry experts to develop the greenhouse, whose production system will be sourced from Virginia-based Prins-USA, according to the announcement.
“Farm-to-table has never been a shorter journey,” Arnhold said in a statement. “As a long-term member of the real estate and development community, I’ve witnessed the erosion of crop and food production within Virginia Beach. Sunny Farms’ highly productive and clean growing initiative makes sense for our area, and we’re proud to be leading the way.”
The project also will be the site of a new nonprofit, One Matters Inc., aimed at providing workforce development opportunities for underserved populations, according to the announcement.
State incentives for the project include a $600,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund and a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund. Sunny Farms also will be eligible for tax credits by creating new, full-time jobs. Other support comes from a workforce initiative called the Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, created by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership with the Virginia Community College System and other higher education partners.