Governor Youngkin has announced on Tuesday that a peanut company is investing $25 million to automate its production line in Suffolk

Birdsong Peanuts announced that its investments will help Birdsong “refurbish and automate its production lines” at the plant, which is one of the company’s five shelling plants across the U.S.

“Birdsong Peanuts chose to reinvest in Suffolk because our corporate headquarters is here, there is a thriving peanut producer base here, there is good access to domestic and export markets, and also because of the region’s talented workforce,” said Charles Birdsong, President of Birdsong Peanuts.

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services worked with the City of Suffolk to secure the project for Virginia. The Governor approved a performance-based grant of $250,000 from the Virginia Investment Performance Grant, an incentive that encourages continued capital investment by existing Virginia companies, as well as a $250,000 grant from the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund to assist the City of Suffolk with the project.

Youngkin celebrated the announcement, saying that it marks Virginia as “open for business.”

“When long-term corporate partners like Birdsong Peanuts reinvest in Virginia, it underscores that Virginia is open for business,” said Governor Youngkin. “Birdsong has positively impacted the region’s economy and Virginia’s agriculture industry for over a century. This market leader facility expansion reinforces Suffolk’s reputation as the ‘peanut capital of the world.’”

Founded in 1914 by T.H. Birdsong in Courtland, Virginia, Birdsong Peanuts was asked by the founder of Planters Peanuts to relocate near his factory in Suffolk in 1939. That facility, which was so crucial to the early success of Planters Peanuts, remains in operation today and has since been joined by dozens of other Birdsong peanut buying, shelling, shipping, and cold storage facilities across 11 states. 

As reported by ABC, Bridsong currently employs 125 people in the city. It’s unclear what effect the automation of the plant’s production lines will have on employment at the facility.