Governor Northam Announces Major Hemp Processing Facility Locating in Halifax County

Commonwealth of Virginia

Office of Governor Ralph S. Northam


Office of the Governor

Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

Blue Ribbon Extraction

Governor Northam Announces Major Hemp Processing Facility Locating in Halifax County

~ Blue Ribbon Extraction to create 22 new jobs, purchase more than $70 million of Virginia-grown industrial hemp for CBD extraction ~

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced that BRD Extraction, LLC, doing business as Blue Ribbon Extraction, will invest $3.26 million to establish Virginia’s first large-scale industrial hemp processing and cannabidiol (CBD) oil extraction facility in the Town of South Boston. The project will create 22 new jobs and the company has committed to sourcing over 90 percent of hemp purchases from Virginia growers, resulting in more than $70 million in payments to Virginia farmers over the next three years. Using state-of-the-art equipment, the company expects to be able to process up to 5,000 pounds of industrial hemp per day, primarily grown by local farmers, most of whom are current or former tobacco farmers.

“Encouraging the development of new markets for Virginia farmers is one of our top priorities for growing the Commonwealth’s agricultural economy,” said Governor Northam. “I am pleased to see that industrial hemp continues to create opportunity and economic vibrancy in rural Virginia, and I congratulate Halifax County, Blue Ribbon Extraction, and all other partners involved in bringing this important new processing capacity to our Commonwealth.”

“There has been tremendous growth in Virginia’s industrial hemp industry, creating new opportunities for rural communities to thrive,” said Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Bettina Ring. “By locating this large processing facility in an emerging geographic center of industrial hemp production, Blue Ribbon Extraction will create a local market for the crop, addressing one of the biggest challenges currently facing the industrial hemp industry in Virginia.”

“We are proud to welcome Blue Ribbon Extraction to Halifax County and the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “The hemp industry represents exciting opportunities for Virginia farmers, and I am confident Southern Virginia will provide a topnotch workforce for the hemp industry to grow and succeed.”

This project was made possible by a strong partnership of private sector leadership and public sector support involving a broad coalition of economic development allies. The company’s founders and primary investors, Richmond residents Rick Gregory and Sterling Edmunds, are both natives of Halifax County and are committed to bringing new jobs and economic opportunity to their home county.

“We look forward to partnering with farmers to establish a local market for a new agricultural crop right here at home in Halifax County,” said Co-Chief Executive Officers, Sterling Edmunds, Jr. and Rick Gregory. “We currently have 1.2 million pounds of hemp under contract with farmers for the 2020 growing season. With the support of our partners in Halifax County and the Town of South Boston, Blue Ribbon is off to a great start and, at full capacity, has the ability to process 6 million pounds of hemp annually. Approximately $10 million will be invested in bringing this project to reality for Southern Virginia.”

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) and Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) worked with Halifax County, the Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA), the Town of South Boston, the South Boston IDA, and the Southern Virginia Regional Alliance to secure this project for the Commonwealth. Governor Northam approved a $200,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which is being matched by the Halifax IDA to assist with the project. The Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission’s Agribusiness Committee also committed $250,000 to the project. Blue Ribbon Extraction qualifies for state benefits from the Virginia Enterprise Zone Program administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Funding and services to support the company’s job creation will be provided through VEDP’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“This is a great day for Halifax County, and the growth of the hemp industry in our region is just beginning,” said Hubert Pannell, Chairman of the Halifax County Board of Supervisors. “The county’s early participation to help implement and sponsor the Industrial Hemp Summit has paid off with the location of Blue Ribbon Extraction. We are very excited to have these community partners in Halifax and look forward to their many successes in the industry. I also want to take this opportunity to thank the Halifax County IDA for their never ending efforts to secure this project.”

“I’m very pleased to see this project get underway so that Southern Virginia is prepared to take advantage of all the opportunities this emerging industry will create,” said Ed Owens, Mayor of South Boston and a member of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission. “The industrial hemp industry has the potential to create many jobs and increased income for our farmers in the coming years and I look forward to seeing this facility up and running.”

“It is exciting to see the hard work of all parties come together on this project, which will be an asset for the region,” said Senator Frank Ruff. “Everyone has worked hard to make hemp a viable crop for the farmers of the region. This is a major step forward.”

“I am pleased that Blue Ribbon Extraction has chosen Halifax to set up shop for hemp processing,” said Delegate James Edmunds II. “I know that the owners want to see Southside Virginia flourish and offering hemp producers a location to sell their raw product is one way to help keep farmers on their land and make a profit. My sincere thanks go out to them for investing in the future of Southside Virginia.”

Full Release


Halifax County Chamber bestows top honors online

chamber bean thumbIn place of its annual dinner meeting and awards ceremony, the Halifax County Chamber of Commerce recognized local business leaders with an online program Thursday to name the Business of the Year, Business Person of the Year and Young Professional of the Year.

The 2020 Business of the Year award went to The Busy Bean and owner Anne Eakes.

Of the award, Eakes said it “is quite humbling, and it knocked the breath out of me because that is such an honor to receive.”

“As a business owner I have learned from some of the best. When I opened the doors local businesses, one by one, opened their arms to me and gave me some of the best advice,” said Eakes, whose coffee shop and eatery has quickly become a downtown favorite.

“I have always believed in giving. I built this business on giving back to the community that I was born and raised in. I’m so proud of The Busy Bean’s staff. The future is bright and I can hardly wait to see where it takes us,” she said.

chamber AB thumbThe Business Person of the Year award was presented to Ankur “AB” Brahmbhatt, owner of the Quality Inn of South Boston, co-owner of Papa John’s and other ventures. Brahmbhatt was lauded for investing in local businesses and helping Halifax County to prosper.

Having lived in Halifax County for the past seven years, Brahmbatt said, “The people here are friendly and helpful, that’s something unique about this community.” Small town connections, he added, have helped him accomplish his goals.

The Young Professional Award went to Jeremy Holt, Realtor with Long and Foster of South Boston.

“This made my day, my week, and my whole month. Thank you all for believing in me, the underdog, as a young business professional,” said Holt in a social media post thanking the Chamber for the honor.

chamber holt thumbFrom The News and Record

Shedding interim status, Brian Zwoyer named leader of Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital

bzDr. Brian Zwoyer, DNP, RN, NE-BC has been named president of Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital.

He has served as the interim president of Sentara Halifax since December 2019 and will begin to fill his new role immediately. Prior to assuming this new role, Zwoyer served as vice president of patient care services and chief nurse executive for Halifax.

In his interim role, Zwoyer led the team through their transition to their new electronic medical record, EPIC. Most recently, he’s been a steady force and voice for the team at Sentara Halifax, as well as for the entire community, as the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded.

“After a thorough and comprehensive recruitment effort, it was decided that Brian was the best fit to successfully lead our hospital into the future,” said Carol Thomas, chair of the Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital board of directors. “We are thankful for his unwavering leadership and his ability to take the helm and lead Halifax during one of the most tumultuous times we’ve seen in healthcare.”

During this period of transition, Nicole Spence, director of patient care services, and Sherri Bee, director of nursing quality, will provide nursing leadership support until the role of chief nurse executive can be filled. A full recruitment search for the position will be conducted, and the hope is to have someone in that position as soon as possible.

Zwoyer was appointed as the new chief nurse executive at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital in July of 2019.

“Our team of caregivers and support staff at Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital is our greatest asset, and I’m particularly proud of the hard work everyone has done, and continues to do, on a daily basis to meet the challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Zwoyer. “I am proud to serve with them in this role, and I’m confident that we are well-positioned to head into the future.”

From The Gazette Virginian

To support shortage, Gloster employees producing masks

Employees at Gloster Furniture in South Boston are producing masks for health care workers and other essential workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are continuously looking at ways to help support the shortage of PPE that the medical community is experiencing. We are currently producing basic masks for donation to the police departments, fire stations, grocery stores and others that can be used to help protect themselves while not taking away from the proper medical equipment needed by our medical community,” said Philip Payne with Gloster Furniture.

If any individual or organization has a need for these masks, email

“We will do our best to fill as many orders as possible,” said Payne.

He also said any requests for healthcare workers will go to the front of line and then they will look at filling the requests for the essential workers.

From The Gazette Virginian

New tourism director named in Halifax County

lhThe Halifax County Tourism Board announced Monday morning LaTonya Sadler Hamilton has been hired as Halifax County’s new tourism director and will start Wednesday.

Hamilton, a five-year employee and contractor in the tourism office, will replace long-time director Linda Shepperd who retired Tuesday.

“I am honored to be chosen to lead the county’s efforts in this rapidly-evolving industry,” Hamilton said. “I look forward to continuing the impressive work started by Linda Shepperd and working collaboratively with our attractions, economic development and our government leadership to make our county a premier place to live, work and play.”

“We’re excited to have a person with LaTonya’s talent and credentials,” said board chairman Tom Raab. “She will bring great energy and creativity as tourism director and has a good pulse on the community. Her education, experience and understanding of tourism’s economic impact in Halifax County were important factors that led to her selection.”

Hamilton has a BA from the University of Virginia and a Master of Business Administration from Averett University. She lives in South Boston with her husband, Will, and their two-year-old daughter.

Hamilton brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the position. She has worked tirelessly to promote Halifax County and coordinated local events such as SoBo Brew Fest and Halifax County Restaurant Week.

From The Gazette Virginian

Spainhour’s celebrates new location in SoBo

shdSurveying the food options at the buffet at Spainhour’s restaurant is like checking out the dishes of freshly prepared food in grandma’s kitchen before tucking into Sunday dinner, but with a slight twist.

Individuals will find the traditional favorites like meatloaf, chicken livers, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans and succotash, along with more exotic offerings such as Thai chicken.

The style of food comes from co-owner Randy Spainhour’s cooking background.

His grandparents Mary and Frank Spainhour taught him how to cook traditional Southern favorites from a young age, he honed his technique for cooking chicken livers while working at the Golden Skillet in high school, and later learned how to cook for a diverse range of taste buds as a cook in the United States Coast Guard.

“It’s based on what my grandma taught me, so it’s foods that you would get at grandma’s house,” Randy said. “We also do different styles of food (such as) Thai chicken, something a little different to get everybody’s tastes in there.”

Read more ...

Safety coordinator at Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative earns national certification

meckMecklenburg Electric Cooperative’s (MEC) Safety and Security Coordinator, Matt Shaw, has completed an intensive electric utility safety and loss control accreditation program.

The Certified Loss Control Professional program is structured to guide the Utility Safety Professional to manage workplace safety and ensure the safekeeping of the Cooperative’s resources.

Coupled with Shaw’s 30-year stretch in the industry, this program’s specifically designed workshops enhance the participant’s skills including emergency procedures, disaster recovery, environmental responsibilities, hazard and job analysis, hazard assessment, accident prevention, accident investigation and accident analysis. This unique program is administered and managed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in conjunction with the National Utility Training & Safety Education Association and in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin School of Business to promote the “Best Practices” in electric utility safety.

Read more ...

Ground broken on shell building; Halifax County IDA leader calls it a ‘new era in economic development’

gb1Only a small amount of dirt was unearthed Friday morning at a groundbreaking ceremony at the Southern Virginia Technology Park, but it was the beginning of something big for Halifax County.

County officials, along with Halifax County Industrial Development Authority (IDA) staff and board members and project investors, all grabbed a shovel and with a celebratory flourish broke ground at the future site of a shell building to attract businesses and industries to the county.

The real work begins this week when contractors will start construction on the shell building. The Samet Corporation, a company based in Greensboro, North Carolina, is the contractor for the construction project.

“I look forward to the dawn of the new era in economic development in this community,” said Brian Brown, Halifax County IDA executive director. “The building will provide a competitive advantage and allow Halifax County access to many of the business opportunities we were not able to compete for in the past.”

Read more ...