The Hershey plant in Starts Draft will receive a $135 million investment for another expansion to add 90,000 square feet and 110 jobs to the facility, according to a Tuesday morning press release from the office of Gov. Ralph Northam.
The “new jobs in these new facilities will be good-paying, high-skilled and career-oriented jobs that require the ability to work with technology as our new facilities will feature the latest in manufacturing tech,” Jeff Beckman, a spokesperson for Hershey, said in a Tuesday email. Hiring for some of these new positions has already begun, he said.
Beckman said the first new line will be completed by the end of 2020, while a second new line and expansion of offices, break rooms and employee lockers will be completed by 2022, he said.
The company’s Stuarts Draft plant is the second largest in the country. Hershey Chocolate of Virginia Inc. employs 1,000 people and has been located in Augusta County for nearly 40 years.
“The Shenandoah Valley has been an excellent place for Hershey to do business and be a part of the community for 38 years now,” Jason Reiman, senior vice president and chief supply chain officer for Hershey, said in the release. “We are proud to continue to invest and grow in an area that gives our employees a great place to live and work. Increasingly, Augusta County and Virginia are critical to our company’s growth and ability to deliver iconic and beloved products to consumers around the world.”
Augusta County and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership were able to secure the development for the commonwealth, according to the release.
Hershey will be providing the $135 million in capital investment for the project, according to Beckman.
Northam approved $1.1 million to go toward the project from the Commonwealth Opportunity Fund, in addition to a $500,000 performance-based grant from the Virginia Investment Program.
Funding will also come from Augusta County and the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.
“Hershey will be eligible to receive $800 per job from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program, for a total of up to $88,000,” Suzanne Clark, communications director for the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, said in a Tuesday email. “The company is eligible for this training reimbursement once an employee has been hired and on board for a minimum of 90 days.”
Local politicians, including state Sen. Emmett Hanger and Del. Ronnie Campbell, both of whom represent Stuarts Draft in Richmond, and Gerald Garber, chairman of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, expressed support for the expansion in the press release.
“The Hershey Company’s remarkable continued investment in Augusta County is a testament to the company’s dedication to improvement, modernity, and our workforce,” Garber said. “The strengthening of Hershey’s supply chain within Augusta County and the Shenandoah Valley, along with the upcoming Peanut Roasting Center of Excellence, illustrates the strengths of our region and the opportunity for growth that we offer.”
In early May 2019, Hershey formally announced a $104 million, 111,000-square-foot expansion to its facility, which added 65 jobs.
Most of that space was an addition to the standing plant, while the remaining 46,000 square feet were for a new standalone peanut roasting operation named the “Hershey Peanut Roasting Center of Excellence.”
Its addition was slated to increase peanut roasting output by more than 50% per hour.
“This major expansion is the company’s second in just over a year, and is a strong testament to the Shenandoah Valley’s ability to attract and retain high-caliber manufacturers,” Northam said in the release. “We thank Hershey for its continued confidence in Virginia and its people, and look forward to the company’s next chapter of growth in our Commonwealth.”