News & Reports

Branch Botanicals Chooses Wythe County’s Progress Park for First Facility and Headquarters

May 11, 2016

Wythe County Seal

State and local officials gathered with representatives of Branch Botanicals, Inc., in Wythe County, Virginia, and announced a significant economic development project today.

Branch Botanicals, Inc., a firm that spans both technology and agriculture, will locate its first manufacturing facility and its headquarters in Progress Park, between Wytheville and Max Meadows in Wythe County.  The initial phase of this investment will employ 40 full-time employees within three years and will yield an investment of over $21 million.

Though skies were threatening, spirits were high as the speakers touted the significant project.

On hand to present a grant from the Tobacco Region Opportunity Fund to Wythe County from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission was Senator Bill Carrico of Virginia’s 40th District and member of the Tobacco Commission.

In remarks made after accepting the symbolic check, Wythe County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tim Reeves commented, “We are proud that Branch Botanicals is investing in Wythe County not only by building this significant, high tech manufacturing facility in Progress Park, but with its partnerships in the agriculture community.”

Mary Rae Carter, special advisor to Governor McAuliffe and to Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones made remarks and presented a Virginia flag to Dr. Dan Tolley of Branch Botanicals, welcoming the company to Southwest Virginia.

To support its unique business model, Branch Botanicals turned to those that know growing best in this area: local farmers. “We knew that contracting with local farmers was the best method to assure success in cultivating the cherry trees we need for their essential oils,” commented Branch Botanicals President Dr. Dan Tolley.

Currently, millions of cherry seedlings are being propagated for planting in Wythe County farmland this year. In time, these cherry trees will be processed and from the biomass, essential oil will be extracted.  “The processes we have developed over decades of trials involve proprietary techniques that — to my knowledge — have never been used in this manner. The results have been the development of multiple unique products that provide effective natural alternatives to commonly used synthetic formulations,” commented Dr. Don Roberts, founder of Branch Botanicals.

“This oil is used in the creation of a number of products that are in high demand globally.  For example, we will provide the first commercially available all natural and organic cherry flavoring to food and beverage manufacturers right from our Wythe County facility,” said Dr. Tolley.  He added, “We will also be producing natural fungicides, insecticides, an antimicrobial, and preservatives from the oil of the plants.”

Instrumental in securing this facility and investment were Wythe County, the Joint IDA of Wythe County, the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, the Virginia Jobs Investment Program (administered by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership), and the Joint IDA Revolving Loan Fund.  Wythe County, Virginia, successfully competed with North Carolina, Ohio, and Maryland for the project.

Delegate Terry Kilgore, Co-Chairman of the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission said, “This project symbolizes some of the best work we can support at the Tobacco Commission. Not only are we supporting farmers in our region, but we’re also helping advance technology and insure that agriculture is viable in the Commonwealth for years to come.”

“This is another wonderful testament to the great infrastructure, friendly business climate and outstanding talent the region has to offer to businesses of all sizes across many industries,” added Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones.  “We congratulate Branch Botanicals and Wythe County, and we are pleased the company is able to take advantage of Virginia’s training programs to further prepare its employees.”

“We welcome Branch Botanicals to our community of successful businesses. They chose Progress Park and Wythe County because our assets matched very closely with their needs. The Joint IDA and Wythe County worked hard to help bring this project to fruition,” said David Kause, Joint IDA of Wythe County Chairman.

David Manley, Executive Director of the Joint IDA said, “Wythe County competed vigorously for this project because its requirements and scope are ideal for our community.”  He added, “Branch Botanicals has the potential to be a transformative addition to our manufacturing base and because of its relationship to agriculture, we already have a workforce tuned and ready.”

Dr. Tolley went on to say, “Our project has found a great home in Wythe County and we look forward to being successful here for years to come.”  He added, “Southwest Virginia — and specifically Progress Park — has been our preferred locale for quite some time as it brings easy access to major markets, access to a highly qualified factory workforce, an amazing farming community, and the opportunity to work closely with Virginia Tech.”

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