Agriculture Technology Campus Establishing 1,000-Acre Operation

Staff Report

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Agriculture Technology Campus, a joint venture project between Mastronardi, Clear Water Farms, LiDestri Food and Drink (LiDestri) and GEM Opportunity Zone Fund, announced plans to establish a state-of-the-art, 1,000-acre agriculture technology campus in Hampton County, South Carolina. The combined $314 million investment is expected to create more than 1,500 new jobs over the next five years.

 “This is a historic day for a region steeped in agricultural history,” said Zeb Portanova, CEO, GEM Opportunity Zone Fund. 

 · Agriculture Technology Campus is establishing a 1,000-acre operation in Hampton County, SC.· The campus will serve as a large-scale operation that includes greenhouses for locally grown, pesticide-free tomatoes, leafy greens, blueberries and berries. Additionally, LiDestri team members will be housed within the campus and manage the food processing facility that uses produce from the greenhouses to make salsa, pesto and other products. Located at the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus within an Opportunity Zone.

 “I am thrilled to be part of this innovative group looking to grow high quality agriculture across the region,” said Portanova. “We will deploy sustainable practices such as using recycled rainwater to irrigate our greenhouses while also providing all Carolina farmers access to our state-of-the-art co-packing facility.  This will help pave the way for citizens to visit their local grocery stores, where they will be able to purchase pesticide free, locally grown produce.”

 “Today is an amazing day for Hampton County, South Carolina, and the Opportunity Zone initiative as a whole,” Senator Tim Scott said. “This is the exact sort of investment we expected in creating Opportunity Zones, and is a classic example of the potential for zones across the country. These 1,500 new full-time jobs and 500 seasonal jobs will help power rural Hampton County’s economy for years to come, helping a historically underserved community build a better future for hard-working South Carolinians.”

 South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster participated in the historic announcement, marking the Agriculture Technology Campus as one of the largest agriculture investments in South Carolina history.

 “Every job created in a rural community affects a family and improves their quality of life. Today’s announcement that the Agriculture Technology Campus is locating in Hampton County is a tremendous win for the local community and our state as a whole. Congratulations to the Agriculture Technology Campus and LiDestri on these expansive operations, and we look forward to their growth in the years to come.” - Gov. Henry McMaster

 David Enstandig is VP and General Counsel for Sunset Grown.  Enstandig represented Mastronardi at the announcement. “Mastronardi is a family owned business that pioneered the commercial greenhouse industry in North America in the 1940s, and today, we are the largest vegetable greenhouse operator on the continent with more than 5,000 acres of controlled-environment productive growing capacity. The prospect of partnering with the GEM Opportunity Zone Fund, Clear Water Farms, and LiDestri Food and Drink to create a state-of-the-art Agricultural campus is exciting for our company and for the entire industry.”

 Clear Water Farms values their strong relationship with Mastronardi and the Sunset brands. We are excited to bring locally grown, pesticide free leafy greens like lettuce, arugula, and basil, to over 50 million Americans throughout the southeast.  Now, with this Agriculture Technology Campus, we are excited to bring the art of growing, co-packing and distribution together and make South Carolina a leader in controlled environment agriculture,” said Jim Campbell, CEO, Clear Water Farms

 LiDestri, a leading food, beverage and spirits co-packing company, will lead the co-packing facility. This facility will allow both campus growers and other South Carolina farmers to process produce making items such as salsa, pesto and other products. LiDestri will handle the processing, packaging, shipping and logistical needs for the Agriculture Technology Campus.

 “The opportunity to bring jobs, fresh produce and investment to rural South Carolina, while partnering with some of the best companies in locally grown produce is very exciting. We are thrilled to be part of this partnership and look forward to the opportunities the co-packing facility will bring to the local community. The innovation and vision of our partners will positively affect the South Carolina agriculture industry for decades to come,” said Stefani LiDestri, CEO, LiDestri Food and Drink

 This controlled environment food production model helps meet the demand of grocery chains and consumers for fresh and reliable produce. The model of growing and sourcing locally grown foods helps ensure food supply chain security, which has been amplified during the COVID-19 pandemic, and minimizes operating expenses through co-location.

 The operations will be located at the Southern Carolina Industrial Campus within an Opportunity Zone – a program created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which encourages economic development and job creation in economically-distressed communities.

 The campus is expected to be operational in 2022 with full operation expected by 2025. Individuals interested in joining the Agriculture Technology Campus or LiDestri team should visit http://agtechcampus.com/.