2021-7-28

Governor Northam Announces Virginia to Reduce Water Pollution, Increase Access to Clean Water

$411.5 million investment in American Rescue Plan funds will improve aging water and sewer infrastructure, restore waterways

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia plans to allocate $411.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to reduce water pollution and increase access to clean water across the Commonwealth. The proposal will make substantial investments in aging water systems and improve drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure.

The announcement is part of “Investment Week,” during which the Governor and legislative leaders will highlight proposals for distributing the $4.3 billion in ARP funding available to the Commonwealth in advance of the August 2nd special session.

“With this funding, we have a tremendous opportunity to rebuild our aging water systems and ensure every Virginia family has reliable access to safe, clean drinking water,” said Governor Northam. “In addition to modernizing water and sewer infrastructure across the Commonwealth, these investments will go a long way towards restoring the health of our waterways and reducing pollution in our communities.”

The proposal includes $186.5 million for wastewater treatment and nutrient removal, $125 million for combined sewer overflow projects in Richmond, Alexandria, and Lynchburg, and $100 million to assist water systems in small and disadvantaged communities. These proposed investments supplement more than $300 million in ARP funding that the Commonwealth sent to towns in June and $2.3 billion made available to Virginia’s 133 counties and cities directly from the federal government to meet local response and recovery needs, which include improving access to clean drinking water and to supporting vital wastewater and stormwater infrastructure.

“Protecting the environment, and particularly providing for sanitary disposal of wastewater, is critical to public health and the economy,” said Secretary of Natural and Historic Resources Matthew J. Strickler. “These investments will put us even closer to restoring the Chesapeake Bay, and will clean up streams and improve septic and sewer systems across the Commonwealth.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of ensuring all Virginians have access to basic necessities—safe housing, quality health care, food security, and reliable utilities,” said Secretary of Health and Human Resources Daniel Carey, MD, MHCM. “Investing in our water systems will help advance health equity and ensure a robust economic recovery.”

Clean water supports overall public health by preventing water-related ailments, increasing sanitation, and enabling food production. Affordable and reliable access to clean water is also important for driving economic activity across a broad range of industries, from tourism and outdoor recreation to agriculture and manufacturing.  

“Maintaining wastewater infrastructure is an essential function of government,” said Senator Mamie Locke. “I am grateful to my colleagues in the General Assembly and to Governor Northam for investing in this issue that has gone unaddressed for far too long.”

“This is a public health issue, an economic issue, and an equity issue,” said House Majority Leader Charniele Herring. “This investment means more Virginians can focus on leading healthy lives and taking pride in their communities, not worrying about high utility bills.”

“As someone who values our natural ecosystems, I am excited to see the tremendous benefits this will bring to improving the health of watersheds across the Commonwealth,” said Senator David Marsden. “It is critical to use these federal funds to make permanent improvements in our fight for clean water.”

“Every Virginian deserves access to clean water and we know that a healthy environment is the backbone of a strong economy,” said Delegate David Bulova. “I look forward to continuing to work with the Administration and my fellow legislators to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation.”

Governor Northam Announces Landmark Virginia Company to Expand in Sussex County, Doubling Production of Iconic Gourmet Peanuts

Virginia Diner will invest over $4.5 million to grow manufacturing and distribution operation

WAKEFIELD—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that Virginia Diner will invest over $4.5 million to nearly double production of its iconic gourmet peanuts. Founded in 1929, Virginia Diner is known for its landmark restaurant on Route 460 in Wakefield and line of gourmet seasoned peanuts, snack mixes, peanut brittles, and other candies. The company currently sources Virginia-variety peanuts exclusively from Florida and as part of this expansion, will create 16 new jobs and commit to sourcing 100 percent of its peanut purchases from the Commonwealth, leading to the purchase of nearly four million pounds of peanuts from Virginia shellers over the next four years. Governor Northam celebrated the announcement with company leaders and local economic development officials during a visit to the restaurant.

“Agriculture is Virginia’s largest industry, and that means it is vital to our economy and the well-being of our residents,” said Governor Northam. “Virginia Diner celebrates all of the culinary traditions of the Southeastern corner of our Commonwealth, most notably, Virginia peanuts. This expansion will not only bring new jobs and investment to Sussex County, but will create important new markets for Virginia peanuts and help secure the future of one of our most iconic businesses.”

Opened in 1929 in a refurbished railroad dining car, Virginia Diner soon became famous for serving patrons not the traditional after-dinner mints, but local peanuts fresh-roasted in the diner’s kitchen. By the late 1940s, customer demand for their famous peanuts led to the creation of a small mail order business. Today, Virginia Diner’s gourmet peanut business accounts for more than 80 percent of the company’s annual sales, with half their sales going through major retailers with the remainder direct to customers through the company’s mail order catalogs and website. 

“Peanuts have been an iconic part of the Commonwealth’s agricultural history since we became the first state in the country to begin commercial peanut production nearly 200 years ago,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “Thanks to companies like Virginia Diner, the Commonwealth’s reputation as a producer of the world’s best peanuts continues to thrive. I’m thrilled that we could partner with Sussex County through the Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund to support this cornerstone of Virginia agriculture.”

“Virginia Diner has been an icon throughout Virginia and the Mid-Atlantic region for 92 years in large part due to the support of our local Wakefield community, regular customers throughout Sussex and surrounding counties, and families who have been visiting for several generations,” said Virginia Diner President and COO Andrew Whisler. “We are thankful for the support of the Commonwealth of Virginia and Sussex County as we embark in a multi-year, multi-phase investment to bring more jobs, revenue, and agricultural purchases to the region.”

The planned expansion is expected to occur in two phases over the next four years. The first phase includes construction of a 22,000 square-foot addition to the existing building for warehousing, distribution, and office space. This new facility will also enable the company to store all of its products on-site. The second phase of the project is an expansion of Virginia Diner’s manufacturing facility, which will increase the company’s production capacity, improve operational efficiencies, and decrease costs, thereby improving product margins. Virginia Diner roasts an average of 4,200 pounds of peanuts per day, scaling up to more than 7,000 pounds per day during peak holiday season.

“Virginia Diner’s commitment to sourcing their peanuts from the Commonwealth is something to celebrate, not just for our state’s progressive economy but for Sussex County as a whole,” said Senator Louise Lucas. “A few weeks ago, Virginia was named the nation’s top state for business by CNBC. Today, we are proud to continue to uphold that standard by celebrating this economic development announcement in Sussex County, one of the rural parts of my district.”

“Virginia Diner is known for its delicious peanut products all over the country,” said Delegate Roslyn Tyler. “As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I am pleased to work with Governor Northam, Secretary Ring, and state agencies to fund small businesses and create job opportunities that are vital to the economy of rural communities like Sussex County. We must continue to move Virginia forward and we can’t turn back.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with Sussex County and the Sussex County Economic Development Authority to secure this project for the Commonwealth.  Governor Northam approved a $100,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund, which Sussex County will match through a rebate of taxes and infrastructure improvements that will directly benefit Virginia Diner as well as two adjacent agriculture-related businesses. 

“For nearly 100 years, Virginia Diner has been a fixture of Sussex County’s business community and this expansion project is evidence of their continued long-term commitment to our county,” said Sussex County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Susan Seward. “In addition, this project will further promote our strong agricultural heritage and provide opportunities for our peanut growers. We appreciate the support of the state and look forward to working with Virginia Diner on this expansion.”

“We are delighted that Virginia Diner has made the decision to continue to grow and prosper in the Gateway Region,” said Keith Boswell, President and CEO of Virginia’s Gateway Region Economic Development Organization. “We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with the company and celebrating this next chapter of their growth for Sussex County.”

Subscribe to RSS - 2021-7-28