S.C. Governor Henry McMaster was in Hampton County Sept. 2 with other state officials to announce a new agriculture technology campus that will offer 1,500 jobs.
Located in the new Opportunity Zone, an initiative sponsored by State Senator Tim Scott in an effort to bring jobs to distressed counties, the 150,000-square-foot distribution center of the Agriculture Technologies Campus (ATC) will be a packing, distribution and processing company that will make South Carolina the leader in agriculture.
“This is exactly the sort of investment we expected in creating Opportunity Zones, and ATC is a classic example of the potential for zones across the country,” said Senator Scott. “This will bring jobs to underserved areas like Hampton County.”
Partnering on the project are Clemson University, Clear Water Farms, LiDestry Foods, and Mastronardi Produce that have been collaborating together to create the new campus for a year.
Grown under glass and in greenhouses, the campus will produce locally grown, pesticide-free vegetables and fruits that will be grown faster. Cleaner, fresher produce with longer shelf life will be affordable and available for consumers. Less water will be needed, a smaller carbon footprint will exist, and food will be grown year round not seasonally. The campus will also partner with local farmers.
Mastronardi, a partner in the new facility, is a family-owned business that pioneered the commercial greenhouse industry in North America in the 1940s.
Also partnering is Clear Water Farms. Jim Campbell, CEO, said, “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.”
Another partner, LiDestri, is a leading food, beverage and spirits co-packing company, that 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 will handle the processing, packaging, shipping and logistical needs for the Agriculture Technology Campus.
“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,” said Stefani LiDestri, CEO, LiDestri Food and Drink.
ATC will benefit Hampton and surrounding counties as farmers and employees will be needed, and produce will be more readily available year round.
The campus is expected to be operational in 2022 with full operation expected by 2025.