8/19/2016 – Caldwell EDC assists Exela Pharma Sciences, 80 Acres Investments in receiving state grants

Posted on: August 19th, 2016 by admin


August 19, 2016


The Caldwell County Economic Development Commission, in cooperation with county and local governments, is pleased to announce that two local businesses have been awarded with North Carolina Department of Commerce Rural Economic Development Division grants in order to expand or initiate their operations.


Lenoir pharmaceutical manufacturer Exela Pharma Sciences has received a $500,000 grant to facilitate a planned $2.55 million investment at the former Expo building across from the company’s headquarters along U.S. 321. Meanwhile, 80 Acres Investments, a new vertical farming company in Granite Falls, has received a $125,000 grant to make improvements to the former Hollin Gate building. The grants will assist in the creation of 50 new, full-time jobs.


“Once again, the Building Reuse grant program is providing valuable support for Caldwell County and its businesses,” Caldwell County Economic Development Commission Executive Director Deborah Murray said. “In this instance, the state program will help an established and cutting-edge company further its steady growth plans, while a new and innovative company will have valuable funding to begin its operations here.


“The partnerships that we have developed at the local and state levels have gone a long way in pushing our economy forward and dramatically reducing the unemployment rate over the past six years. And we are very thankful to have a state program to assist businesses in advancing their goals.”


Since coming to Lenoir in 2008, Exela Pharma Sciences has charted a consistent growth path that has pushed its employment levels from 16 to nearly 200. A manufacturer and developer of pharmaceutical products, Exela plans to renovate and lease the 86,427-square-foot building that is owned by Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation.


The renovation project will allow Exela to expand its manufacturing lines to produce sterile injectable syringes and infusion bags for hospital use. The site will also be utilized for quality assurance laboratories, packaging, and labeling.


”Exela is thrilled to have received this grant,” Exela Pharma Sciences President and CEO Phanesh Koneru said. “The unwavering support from the great State of North Carolina which started almost eight years ago continues. This energizes us in turn to continue to create jobs in Caldwell County.


“We thank all those involved in the award grant, including the Caldwell Country Economic Development Commission, the County of Caldwell and the City of Lenoir for their support throughout. Finally, Exela thanks its many outstanding dedicated employees that help Exela grow and contribute to the growth of our community.”


Upon completion of the renovations and receipt of FDA inspection protocol approval, Exela plans to begin manufacturing in the middle to latter part of 2017. Along with its corporate headquarters, Exela has additional operations along William White Place and on Morganton Boulevard.



A company already in operation in Ohio, Arkansas, and Alabama, 80 Acres Investments is involved in the engineering and manufacturing of equipment that is utilized in vertical farming operations that are installed into refurbished stainless steel containers.


The company has purchased a 5,500-square-foot building at York View Court, along with adjacent acreage, and the renovations will allow the company to meet the growing demand for vertical farming processes that are proving to be increasingly popular with national food distribution companies and retailers. Vertical farming utilizes LED lighting, enhanced irrigation techniques, and climate-controlled functions to provide a year-round growing cycle that both increases product yield while reducing the overall carbon footprint.


“We believe that 80 Acres is the sustainable future of farming,” 80 Acres Investments President Tisha Livingston said. “We use plant science and technology to bring fresh local food to communities as we strive to create a healthier world.


“We believe that Caldwell County is a perfect place to develop the equipment used to further our quest to bring healthy local food into people’s lives because of the community support and integrity-based, business-friendly environment.”


Added Tracy Canipe, the company’s chief of engineering and design, “We are thrilled to with the Town of Granite Falls, the Caldwell County EDC, and the State of North Carolina to bring good-paying manufacturing jobs back to this area.


“It’s exciting to be able to bring the burgeoning vertical farming industry to Caldwell County.”


The renovation project is expected to be complete in the fall of 2017. The company plans to hire 10 new, full-time employees.

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