Bowman Andros announces expansion

Andros Foods North America announced on Tuesday that it will be providing 160 new jobs at the Bowman Apple Products facility in Mount Jackson.

The jobs will be part of a $73 million investment the France-based Andros Foods is making over a three-year period during which it will look to expand its Mount Jackson fruit processing facility.

This expansion is the latest development at the Mount Jackson site since Andros Foods and Bowman Apple Products first partnered in 2011.

Mike Thome, vice president of finance for Andros Foods North America, said the company will “start to have some incremental construction by the end of this year or early next year.”

Thome added that the job additions will be incremental as well.

“Most of the jobs will be production associates working on the production floor,” Thome explained, adding, “There will be incremental supervisory positions that will be added as well as some … maintenance and technical positions.”

Thierry Jean, CEO of Andros Foods North America, said the jobs provided through the expansion will include hourly and salaried positions.

Wages and salaries for the jobs, Jean added, “will vary” and “be extremely competitive in the valley and in the industry.”

Data provided by Brandon Davis, Shenandoah County director of community development, estimated that the average wage for the new positions will be “at least” $27,581 per person.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average income per-capita in Shenandoah County between 2009 and 2013 was $25,134.

Jean said that Andros’ job advertising will be starting “with a closed-in radius” within the county, but would then be expanded beyond that. He added, “Hopefully, the majority of our recruits will come from the region.”

However, Jean also indicated that the company will not limit its job search to just the state or the valley. “In some cases, we’ll have to go outside of the state to find qualified people.”

Davis said he believes the Bowman-Andros expansion is the “largest single private investment that the county has been a partner on in the history of the county.” He said that includes the 2010 Mercury Paper investment.

According to Tuesday’s announcement, the project was a joint effort between the county and the Virginia Economic Development Partnership.

For the project, the state approved $400,000 from the Governor’s Opportunity Fund as well as $100,000 from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund.

Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore stated that the AFID grant is “really good news for apple growers,” because it requires Andros to purchase “at least 30 percent” of its apples from within the state.

“Typically, when agribusinesses or farming operations have new streams of income, they reinvest those streams into their operations,” Haymore said.

Thome said the expansion will allow the facility to increase its “apple processing capacity for pouch products and also … additional fruit-type of products.”

The combined $500,000 of those grants represents a one-to-one matching fund for the county. An additional $600,000 will come from a “performance-based grant” from the Virginia investment partnership program.

Davis explained that the $73 million investment from Andros Foods will “greatly cover” the cost of matching the $500,000 grants.

“That $500,000 that we have to match will be just a small portion of the revenue that is received because of the project,” Davis said, specifying that the revenue will come from “new taxable investments” the county will receive.

Although Jean said he could not provide the company’s own revenue models and estimates, he did note the company is expecting a “significant growth” from the expansion.

Estimates from Davis and the county indicated cumulative revenue of just under $4.3 million for the initial eight-year period of the site’s expansion. It essentially covers time when the investment would kick in as well as its depreciation in the eighth year.

However, Davis mentioned that the data provided Tuesday is “the most basic way of looking at revenue” and does not account for anything outside of tax revenue and real estate tax revenue.

At the same time, Davis added that one takeaway from the data is that the way the county “planned and structured the rebate over three years makes it a net-positive [revenue] every year.”

In an email, Davis explained that part of the county’s added local revenue will get rebated back to Andros in three installments equaling $166,667.

Thome said, “We’re very excited about our future here in Mount Jackson and the Shenandoah Valley.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com