Shenandoah Processing, a newly formed, locally owned company located in Harrisonburg, Va., will reopen a former Pilgrim's poultry processing facility and create 102 new full-time equivalent positions in Harrisonburg. During the three-year project, Shenandoah Processing will invest more than $2.2 million in capital improvements and purchase an additional $160 million of Virginia grown poultry from Virginia growers over the next three years.

The Shenandoah Processing facility will serve the growing market for organically raised and "all-natural" chicken.

Shenandoah Processing will provide processing services for Shenandoah Valley Organics, a poultry growing operation. In addition, the facility will provide custom processing services to individual farmers and growers who wish to have poultry prepared for retail sale. The facility will offer five end products: whole birds, boneless breasts, leg quarters, paws and basic cut-up. The facility start up will involve Shenandoah Processing leasing the facility and up-fitting with processing equipment. The facility will go from processing approximately 20,000 birds a day in year one, to 30,000 birds a day in year two, to 50,000 birds a day in year three.

Shenandoah Valley Organics will work with poultry growers in the Central Shenandoah Valley to source their birds for Shenandoah Processing, targeting production of almost 11 million high-quality, organic chickens in the first three years. In many instances, growers will be able to use existing poultry houses that are currently out of production in order to serve the new demand. By year three, Shenandoah Processing is expecting to require the full-time use of 106 poultry houses and provide opportunities for as many as 70 farmers.

"We believe there is a significant demand for certified organic/humanly raised chicken products. This awareness will only increase," said Corwin Heatwole, president of Shenandoah Processing. "We are excited to be bringing this project to the Valley and know it will help create a source of income for many families here in the Valley. One of the most important parts of this project is the life that will be brought back to many poultry houses that are currently out of production. We greatly appreciate the support that has been felt from locals, Harrisonburg, and the state."

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and other state officials on December 9 welcomed the announcement of the new poultry processing facility to the state.

"Shenandoah Processing is a tremendous example of the entrepreneurial underpinnings of Virginia agriculture. Starting first as a poultry grower, Shenandoah Processing owner Corwin Heatwole is building on his experience in opening a processing facility that will provide a new market for other growers and create jobs in the Harrisonburg area. Over the four years of my administration, we've made sure that business owners such as Mr. Heatwole have the opportunities and environment they need to be successful and bring jobs and more economic security to the Commonwealth," said McDonnell.

"Through this project, Shenandoah Processing is adding further diversity to Virginia's number one agricultural commodity - poultry," added Todd P. Haymore, secretary of agriculture and forestry. "I am especially pleased about Shenandoah Processing's commitment that practically 100 percent of the poultry processed at the facility will be from Virginia growers. The local agricultural economy in Rockingham and surrounding counties will benefit greatly from having this new operation come online."

The Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with the city of Harrisonburg to help make the project a reality. Gov. McDonnell approved a $50,000 matching grant from the Governor's Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development Fund to assist Harrisonburg with the project. The project is receiving additional assistance through the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.