Grant & Loan Awards: Clinch County
Equity loan funds to assist with the purchase of machinery and equipment in support of Okefenokee Berry Center, LLC in Homerville. The proposed facility is needed to accommodate the massive growth in production of berries in Clinch County and will serve as a package and distribution center for local blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Clinch County in South Georgia is the second largest producer of blueberries in the state. From 2009 to 2010, it produced 8.2 million pounds, which is expected to increase in 2011 by 20%, not including blackberry or raspberry production. Sunny Ridge Farms in Clinch County has the capacity to pack only five million pounds of blueberries per season and the large excess caused delays which resulted in poor quality berries and lower market prices. Upon learning that Sunny Ridge will not increase capacity, but will truck excess berries to their Florida plant 260 miles away, six of Clinch County’s largest producers formed the Okefenokee Berry Center to create an additional packing facility, a project vital to Clinch and surrounding counties of Lanier and Ware. Okefenokee Berry Center will upgrade an existing 36,000 SF building and expand it by 13,040 SF to accommodate receiving, cooling, packing and shipping fresh berries to retail distribution centers across North America. Okefenokee Berry Center will create 74.5 full time jobs and make a capital investment of over $2.6 million.
E 9-1-1 funds to assist in the construction of a regional E 9-1-1 center, including the purchase of equipment to serve the 21,728 residents within the three Tier 1 counties of Atkinson, Clinch and Lanier. The center will be centrally located in Lanier County near the Clinch County border. In addition, the center will create 13 new jobs.
EDGE funds for land acquistion and the construction of a distribution center for Sunny Ridge Farms, Inc. to locate in Homerville, GA. The center will receive, package and distribute locally grown blueberries, blackberries, and rasberries. Sunny Ridge Farms, Inc. would employ 50 within the first 24 months.