Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced today that Blue Bee Cider, LLC will relocate and expand its cidery in the City of Richmond. The company will invest more than $1 million to renovate the historic city stables property in Scott’s Addition and triple production of its award-winning hard cider, creating four new jobs. In addition, Blue Bee Cider will purchase more than 850,000 pounds in Virginia-grown apples and berries over the next three years.
Speaking at the announcement, Gov. McAuliffe stated, “I am pleased to announce Blue Bee Cider’s investment in the City of Richmond, which marks new opportunities for Virginia’s growing hard cider industry. Blue Bee’s investment bolsters Virginia’s reputation as a top East Coast craft beverage destination and highlights the growing and important link between agriculture and tourism across the Commonwealth. The project, with its capital investment, new jobs, and strong commitment to sourcing locally, represents another economic win for the region. My administration is committed to utilizing fully our diverse agriculture industry, one of the Commonwealth’s greatest assets, to help build the new Virginia economy.”
Established in 2012 in the Manchester area of Richmond, Blue Bee Cider has been producing cutting-edge artisanal hard cider using a variety of heirloom apples. The company will expand its existing orchard, bringing agriculture back to Richmond. In addition, Blue Bee will purchase $257,000 of Virginia-grown apples and berries from Virginia farmers over the next three years, or approximately 98 percent of all its agricultural feedstock. The expansion will enable the company to triple its production of hard cider to over 100,000 bottles per year.
“Blue Bee Cider’s expansion represents another positive step for Virginia as we reinforce our reputation as a key player in the nation’s hard cider sector,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Todd Haymore. “Sales of Virginia cider increased over 200 percent from fiscal years 2014 to 2015 and national sales rose by more than 40 percent over the same. Blue Bee’s high-quality, Virginia-grown products have won national acclaim and will continue to be a landmark in Richmond. Indeed, these craft beverages and others are contributing positively to cities and rural communities across the Commonwealth, adding to the Governor’s call to build a new Virginia economy.”
The Commonwealth is partnering with the City of Richmond and Blue Bee Cider on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). Gov. McAuliffe approved a $50,000 grant from the AFID Fund to assist with the project, which the City of Richmond is matching with local funds.
“As Richmond’s food and beverage reputation was rising, two years ago I started looking for a new facility to accommodate our growth. I feel very fortunate that Blue Bee Cider has found a home at such a beautiful place with urban-agricultural roots. The Stables are so wonderful as they are. It is a true honor to be part of its story and rebirth,” added Courtney Mailey, owner of Blue Bee Cider. “I have been so appreciative of the leadership provided by VDACS’s AFID program on this project. I also am thankful that the City’s Department of Economic and Community Development gave Blue Bee Cider a fair shake during the bidding process for this property. Having great partners at the state and local level has made it possible for Blue Bee Cider to show what a community-oriented, urban cidery can be like.”
“I am extremely pleased that Blue Bee Cider has chosen to not only remain in the city of Richmond, but expand its operations here at this unique and historic property in the heart of the dynamic Scott’s Addition neighborhood,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “Richmond, and Scott’s Addition in particular, has always been a place of makers – creators of innovative and high-quality products that are valued and used all over the world. In addition to manufacturing a product that uses Virginia and Richmond resources, Blue Bee will be a neighborhood and tourism draw, adding a unique gathering venue for locals and tourists alike to the eclectic and growing mix of businesses and residents in Scott’s Addition.”
Senator Glen Sturtevant (R – Richmond) commented, “This is a very exciting opportunity for the City of Richmond. The hard cider industry has grown immensely here in the Commonwealth and has been a significant contributor to Virginia’s agriculture and tourism industries. I am thrilled for the City to partake in this great economic development project and for Blue Bee Cider to continue to grow its business in Richmond.”
Delegate Jennifer L. McClellan (D – Richmond) added, “I am thrilled to see another agribusiness growing in the City of Richmond. The award of this AFID grant by the Governor provides a great opportunity for Richmond to support urban agriculture, especially in the fast-growing Virginia cider industry. I look forward to seeing Blue Bee Cider continue to grow and to renovate this historic property into a new agritourism destination for Richmond.”
According to a 2012 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry employs more than 4,700 people and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis. Nationwide, Virginia is in the top five states in number of wineries and wine grape production. In 2015, Virginia wine sales reached an all-time high of more than 524,000 cases or nearly 6.3 million bottles. More than 1.6 million tourists visited Virginia wineries in 2015.
Since the beginning of the McAuliffe administration, 615 economic development deals have been closed in Virginia with $10 billion in capital investment, which is more than any previous governor in the first 25 months in office.