Hershey Co. to Invest $135M in Virginia Plant Expansion
- Jul 02, 2020
The Hershey Co. is expanding its second-largest U.S. plant in Virginia once again. The chocolate manufacturing company is pumping $135 million into its Stuarts Draft facility in Augusta County, Va., following a previous expansion from 2019.
The latest expansion will increase the Virginia plant by 90,000 square feet and create 110 jobs. The upgrades will bring new manufacturing lines and employee facilities including offices, lockers and break rooms, Hershey spokesperson Jeff Beckman told Commercial Property Executive. The 2019 expansion saw a $104 million investment from Hershey that also created 65 new jobs and expanded the space by 111,000 square feet.
Jason Reiman, Hershey’s senior vice president & chief supply chain officer, said in prepared remarks that the Virginia facility has been around for 38 years. The plant focuses on products with peanuts and Reese’s brand products but also manufactures Mounds, Almond Joy, Whatchamacallits and other chocolate products, Beckman told CPE. The facility employs more than 1,000 people and is Hershey’s second-largest plant in the U.S. among six others in Oregon, Tennessee, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Brian Ball, Virginia’s secretary of commerce and trade, said in prepared remarks that Hershey has been an important factor in the surrounding Shenandoah Valley’s reputation as a top location for food and beverage manufacturers.
Support from state government
As the project benefits both Hershey and the surrounding area, the expansion has received strong governmental support. To secure the major project, Virginia’s Economic Development Partnership worked alongside Augusta County. Virginia’s Jobs Investment Program will also be offering funding and services to support the initiative as the plant will be creating new jobs.
As for financial assistance, Governor Ralph Northam approved a $1.1 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund that will help Augusta County with the expansion and also approved a $500,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Performance program that encourages capital investment by existing Virginia companies. Northam also passed an executive order on climate change in the state that has led to companies like Dominion Energy Virginia posting increases of more than 300 percent in solar and wind energy generation compared to the previous year.