A new agribusiness center will create 1,547 jobs and an expected economic impact of nearly $552 million a year in Hampton County.
The $314 million Agriculture Technology Campus cluster, expected to be operational in 2022, is a joint venture between several agribusinesses. Located at the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus within an Opportunity Zone, it will include greenhouses for locally grown, pesticide-free tomatoes, leafy greens, blueberries and other fresh produce, along with a 150,000-square-foot distribution center and a co-packing facility.
The 1,000-acre campus cluster is projected to increase total economic output in Hampton County by $551.7 million a year, or $7.4 billion over 15 years, according to an economic impact study commissioned by the S.C. Department of Agriculture.
The project will bring together Mastronardi Produce, a Canadian company which sells tomatoes under the Sunset label; New York-headquartered LiDestri Food and Drink, which will provide processing, packing and shipping services; and Clear Water Farms, an N.Y.-based indoor grower of leafy greens, according to a news release from the department.
The campus will utilize Controlled Environment Agriculture, a hydroponic-based technology which allows growers to minimize space and conserve water while controlling for factors such as weather, according to the release.
The state agriculture department said it has been exploring the potential for Controlled Environment Agriculture to boost S.C.’s agricultural economy for the past three years. Locally grown and distributed food helps build supply chain security, an especially crucial need during the COVID-19 pandemic, the department said.
“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,” S.C. Commissioner of Agriculture Hugh Weathers said in the release. “A Controlled Environment Agriculture project of this scale will conserve land and water and offer South Carolinians more chances to buy local produce.”
U.S. Sen. Tim Scott drafted legislation creating Opportunity Zones in the 2017 tax reform package. A recent report found that tax cuts extended to the more than 8,000 low-income communities designated as such throughout the nation will bring nearly $75 million in private-sector investment.
“Today is an amazing day for Hampton County, South Carolina, and the Opportunity Zone initiative as a whole,” Scott said in a news release. “This is the exact sort of investment we expected in creating Opportunity Zones and is a classic example of the potential for zones across the country. These 1,500 new full-time jobs and hundreds of seasonal jobs will help power rural Hampton County’s economy for years to come, helping an historically underserved community build a better future for hard-working South Carolinians.”
Emploment information is available online at www.agtechcampus.com.