The largest peanut shelling plant in the United States is officially open for business. Premium Peanut, located on Barrington Road west of Douglas, has actually been open for 92 days. Friday, however, the company celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon cutting, which was attended by several high-ranking officials, including Gov. Nathan Deal and his wife, Sandra. Several hundred people gathered on the grounds of Premium Peanut for a luncheon and the ribbon cutting.
- Learn more about the event from Douglas Now
Premium Peanut received $20 million in critical New Markets Tax Credit financing from CEI Capital Management LLC and another $3 million in allocation from SunTrust Bank to help expand its operations.
Premium Peanut used the capital to build a shelling facility to benefit a collection of 225 member farms in a cooperative-like arrangement. The peanut processing plant will help the farmers more easily access the market. Through guaranteed contracts and profit distribution, farms will see better overall profitability and smooth out the vagaries of boom and bust cycles that are notorious in the peanut industry.
[box] U.S. Rep. Rick Allen stated that the plant will provide a much needed shot in the arm to what has been a lagging agriculture economy nationally. “I’m thankful that this facility is creating jobs and giving people the opportunity to support their families, communities, churches, their state, and their nation,” he said.[/box]
The shelling facility is located in an an area of Douglas, Georgia with a poverty rate of almost 30 percent and an unemployment rate above 9 percent. The plant will create approximately 100 direct jobs, plus an additional 30 indirect jobs at the storage facilities. The majority of direct jobs will be unskilled positions available to low-income individuals and all will pay a living wage for single adult in the county and include benefits.
“This part of Georgia has what we often find in rural economies. Activity and growth are heavily dependent on natural resource industries as the main drivers,” said CEI Capital Management CEO Charlie Spies. “By supporting a cooperative farming model the New Markets Tax Credit program is doing its job, diversifying a shallow economy to lay the groundwork for a sustainable future.”