$200,000 grant to bring at least 40 new jobs to Branch Botanicals in Wythe Co.

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RICHMOND (WSLS 10) - A $200,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission to Branch Botanicals, Inc. will create at least 40 new jobs in Wythe County.

The grant will support both the company's headquarters and a manufacturing facility in Progress Park.

In addition to the jobs created, Branch Botanicals has agreed to invest at least $21 million in Wythe County.

The commission worked with Wythe County, the Joint IDA of Wythe County, the Virginia Jobs Investment Program and the Joint IDA Revolving Loan Fund to bring Branch Botanicals to Wythe County.

Co-Chairman of the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission Delegate Terry Kilgore said "This project symbolizes some of the best work we can support at the Tobacco Commission. Not only are we supporting farmers in our region, but we're also helping advance technology and ensure that agriculture is viable in the Commonwealth for years to come."

Branch Botanicals will produce a cherry extract from trees grown in Wythe County in cooperation with local farmers. The biomass of the cherry plants is processed using steam distillation to yield the extract which can then be used to create a variety of products including a natural, organic flavoring among others.

Branch Botanicals president Dr. Dan Tolley said "We are looking forward to being a part of the community here in Wythe County. We chose to locate here because of the farm community, workforce and the access to Virginia Tech." Dr. Tolley added "Virginia Tech is going to be an important partner as we find other uses for this plant."

Branch Botanicals will be located at Progress Park, a more than 1,200 acre regional revenue sharing megasite owned by Wythe County. Since 2004 the Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission has invested more than $4 million in the development of Progress Park.