The board of the Golden LEAF Foundation on Thursday approved an $800,000 grant to the Southeastern Partnership to help fund the purchase of equipment for a planned cold storage facility at the Port of Wilmington.
A partnership between the State Ports Authority and USAInvestCo will create a state-of-the-art facility for near-vessel cold storage of agricultural products, both exports and imports. Company officials expect construction of the 75,000-square-foot facility to begin in early 2014, with opening planned for 2015. The Southeastern Partnership will purchase equipment for the facility. USAInvestCo will lease that equipment from the partnership.
A modern cold storage facility at the port is expected to generate substantial savings to North Carolina’s agriculture industry by reducing logistics costs to and from ports. Once constructed, this facility will enable the state’s farmers to use the state’s ports, as opposed to neighboring facilities in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.
“This cold storage facility is a vital piece of infrastructure that our producers have needed for a long time, and I want to thank Golden LEAF for helping to make it a reality,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “North Carolina is the largest producer of pork and poultry on the East Coast, and these meats are among our most popular exports. The state also has the only East Coast ports that currently do not have a cold storage facility for these products. I’m glad that is going to change.
“Our department has been very aggressive at boosting North Carolina agricultural exports in recent years,” Troxler said. “In 2012, the value of North Carolina agricultural exports was nearly $4 billion. We also have been very involved in helping to make this facility happen. Cold storage capability for meats, fruits, vegetables and other commodities will provide benefits both to our marketing efforts and to the Port of Wilmington. I’m pleased that a public-private partnership is making it a reality.”