Uptown Greenville, NC


Food Manufacturer to Create 57 Jobs in Pitt County

GREENVILLE, NC – (December 4, 2013)  The Pitt County Development Commission, with Governor Pat McCrory and North Carolina Commerce Secretary Sharon Decker, announced today that Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration, LLC will locate a manufacturing facility in Pitt County. The company plans to create up to 57 jobs and invest more than $12 million over the next three years in Farmville.

"We are excited about the new venture and the opportunity it will bring to area growers,” said Stacy Ham, Vice President of Ham Produce Co., Inc. “It has been our goal to bring jobs back to the Farmville facility since we purchased it in 2009.”

“Bringing back manufacturing jobs to eastern North Carolina is an ongoing priority for my administration,” said Gov. McCrory.  “Companies like Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration know that Pitt County offers them the skilled workforce and strong business climate they need to succeed.”

Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration, LLC is being developed by Ham Produce Company, Inc. for the purpose of dehydrating significant quantities of quality vegetables for use as an ingredient in various food products.

“This jobs announcement is significant because it will have an impact not only on Pitt County but on growers throughout the region,” said Sharon Decker, North Carolina Secretary of Commerce.  “We applaud Ham Produce and Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration, LLC for investing locally in eastern North Carolina.”

Ham Produce is a family-owned company founded in 1975.  With headquarters in Snow Hill, the company is one of the largest farming operations of sweet potatoes in North Carolina.  The company has existing partnerships with YamCo, producers of the highest quality aseptic sweet potato, pumpkin, and squash puree, and with Covington Spirits, LLC, which produces gourmet vodka from North Carolina sweet potatoes.  Ham Produce also supplies sweet potatoes to a number of restaurants and supermarkets.

"Ham Farms has been an excellent corporate partner over the years," noted Wanda Yuhas, Executive Director of the Pitt County Development Commission.  "We look forward to their grand opening in the spring and even more exciting news," she said.

Salaries will vary by job function, but the average annual salary for the new jobs will be $38,123, plus benefits. The Pitt County average annual wage is $33,769.

The project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund of up to $114,000.  The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state.  Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. These grants require and are contingent upon local matches.

“I am delighted to welcome Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration, LLC to Farmville," said former Farmville Mayor Robert Evans. "Their innovative processes and unique market make them a natural fit to partner with an existing Farmville business, Ham Produce, developing the potential to expand beyond the initial jobs and investment and making an impact on the rich agricultural community of eastern North Carolina.  Farmville is prepared and willing to aid in the success of this very promising joint business venture.”

Other partners that helped with this project include the N.C. Department of Commerce, N.C. Community Colleges, Pitt County, Pitt County Development Commission, Pitt County Committee of 100 and the Town of Farmville.

Pitt County is also involved with Wilson and Greene Counties and the City of Greenville on a food processing cluster recruitment project.  The partnership was formed as part of a Stronger Economies Together (SET) project sponsored by the USDA.

"We are excited to assist Ham Produce in bringing this venture to Pitt County," said Mark Garner, Pitt County Development Commission Board Chair.  "We look forward to many other similar opportunities in the food processing and agribusiness sectors."

For more information about Natural Blend Vegetable Dehydration, LLC, including job opportunities, visit www.HamFarms.com.