June 30, 2014
Gov. Terry McAuliffe stopped in Charlottesville on Monday afternoon to announce a local company will receive a major grant to spur economic growth in the region and beyond.
Online grocery company Relay Foods has an extra $50,000 thanks to the Agriculture & Forestry Industry Development grant through the governor's office.
"I would tell early investors that this had a one in 100 chance of working," Relay Foods founder and CEO Zach Buckner said. "There was a lot of these types of businesses around the nation that just didn't work."
But Relay proved successful and could be one of the governor's hand-picked businesses to spur economic growth.
"This is exciting what's happening here," McAuliffe said. "All locally grown, brought here. It helps the farmers, it helps the consumers, so this is a win-win."
As part of a $735,000 investment, the company will now add 25 new jobs at its Charlottesville headquarters and is forecasting sales of $3 million over the next three years.
"It's significant. Any time a small city like Charlottesville, 10 square miles, can add more jobs, it's a big deal," said Chris Engel, the city's director of economic development.
Relay, which largely serves Charlottesville, Richmond and Washington, D.C., is now hoping to have a bigger presence along the East Coast and beyond.
"What we hope is that one year, two years from now, this will be the start of a national expansion of the business," Buckner said.
The governor said this is only the beginning, with the hopes that investing in a small business in a small Virginia city is only going to spur more economic growth down the line across the commonwealth.
"This innovation, entrepreneurship that goes on here in Charlottesville is really great for other communities who may be not thinking about it, but when they hear about this, they say that's a great idea," McAuliffe said. "That's how you build an economy."
The governor took a tour of the Carlton Avenue warehouse and maintains that investment in Virginia's small businesses is not only the way to grow the state economy, but also its profile around the world.
"We've got to be investing in those entrepreneurial areas that will grow our economy," McAuliffe said.
The agriculture industry is Virginia's largest, generating more than $52 billion per year and providing more than 400,000 jobs in the commonwealth.