Empire Bakery Commissary to Create 75 New Jobs

empire announcement

ROCKY MOUNT, Va. – Empire Bakery Commissary, LLC, a commercial producer of ready-made cakes, cookies, and desserts, announced an expansion that will double its capacity, creating 75 new jobs in Franklin County.

The company is investing $10.4 million, including $2.3 million in new equipment, to add 32,000 square feet to its Rocky Mount facility and renovate an additional 12,000 square feet to serve more customers.

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Wholesome Harvest Baking Expands, Will Invest $22 Million in Roanoke Region

A company the Roanoke Regional Partnership helped bring to the region two decades ago is expanding again.

Wholesome Harvest Baking, a subsidiary of Grupo Bimbo, one of the world’s largest bakery companies, will invest $22.1 million to upgrade equipment and add a production line for artisan bread in its City of Roanoke operation. In addition, 324 existing employees will be retrained to operate the new machinery with support from the Virginia Jobs Investment Program.

“Wholesome Harvest Baking’s products are consumed around the globe, and we are proud that this industry giant continues to invest in the Commonwealth,” said Governor Terry McAuliffe. “This expansion strengthens the company’s future in the City of Roanoke and allows it to continue to benefit from the region’s infrastructure, assets, and strategic location. Staying competitive in a global market demands businesses’ constant evaluation of new technologies and requires a workforce with skills of the 21st century. The Virginia Jobs Investment Program helps ensure that our labor pool is readily recruitable, trained, and highly productive, which remains a key focus as we continue to diversify and build the new Virginia economy.”

“Wholesome Harvest Baking continues to be a strong employer in the City of Roanoke, and the decision to retrain more than 300 existing employees on new equipment is a great testament to the company’s commitment to the Roanoke Valley and the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Todd Haymore.

With more than 100 years of experience in the bread business, Wholesome Harvest Baking has a proven track record of success and brought its expertise to the United States in 1996. In 2014, Mexican baking company Grupo Bimbo acquired this frozen bakery business and established the new Wholesome Harvest Baking LLC. Grupo Bimbo is the largest bakery corporation in the world, currently operating in 22 countries across four continents.
Wholesome Harvest first located in Roanoke in 1997 and has undergone several expansions. The Partnership worked the project to help the company locate here.

“We value our people who work in the Roanoke community and believe that a successful company is built on the talents of our many associates,” said Dan Curtin, president of Wholesome Harvest Baking. “We are proud to partner with the VJIP to provide our associates with quality training and are committed to fostering the personal and professional growth of our associates to provide our customers with exceptional products.”

The Virginia Economic Development Partnership will support Wholesome Harvest’s job retraining through its Virginia Jobs Investment Program. VJIP provides consultative services and funding to companies creating new jobs or experiencing technological change to support employee training activities. As a business incentive supporting economic development, VJIP reduces the human resource costs of new and expanding companies. VJIP is state-funded, demonstrating Virginia’s commitment to enhancing job opportunities for its citizens.

“For nearly 20 years, Wholesome Harvest Baking has provided gainful employment to hundreds of residents of the Roanoke Valley, and also been a strong supporter of infrastructure development within the Roanoke Centre for Industry and Technology, including the installation of sidewalks and initiation of bus service to the park,” said Sherman P. Lea, Sr., Mayor, City of Roanoke. “I am delighted to see Wholesome Harvest’s further commitment to the community by announcing this expansion. The City of Roanoke looks forward to continuing our partnerships with Wholesome Harvest for many years to come.” 

2 Distilleries Open in Franklin County

You know that the Roanoke Region is home to a growing craft beer market with 14 breweries. And we also have a flourishing group of wineries.

But did you know that the region is home to two new distilleries as well?

Franklin County Distilleries is located in Boones Mill and is believed to be the first legal distillery in the county since before the prohibition era. It produces corn whiskey.

Twin Creeks Distillery in Rocky Mount opened shortly after Franklin County Distilleries and produces peach brandy, a rye whiskey and a “First Sugar” moonshine.

A great, high-quality water supply and the county’s heritage make sense for this pair of businesses. “It’s such a distinctive Franklin County heritage product that is now wondrously legal,” Boones Mill Mayor Ben Flora told The Roanoke Times. The distilleries are part of a larger vision for the county and tourism growth.

Learn more about both businesses in a recent story from The Roanoke Times.

Learn why the Roanoke Region is a good fit for businesses in the food and beverage industry.

Region’s Food Culture Featured in Destinations Travel Magazine

The Roanoke Region was featured in the May issue of Destinations Travel Magazine in a story titled, “In Search of Stars of the Star City.” Destinations Travel Magazine covers travel destinations, getaways, and recreation around the world featuring photo-centric stories and essays. 

Author Darlene Perrone traveled to Roanoke to take a culinary trek with Roanoke Food Tours, a walking tour of food artisans around the city. Stops on the tour featured in the story include Cedars Lebanese Restaurant, Little Green Hive, Texas Tavern, the City Market, and First & Sixth, among others. 

Although the culinary arts was the main focus of the trip, Perrone also found time to visit, and write about, the Mill Mountain Zoo, Hotel Roanoke, the region’s railroad heritage and the Mill Mountain Star. The article paints a lovely picture of region as both a culinary and cultural destination complete with great photos showcasing the sites.

Here is an excerpt: 

“Our food tour continued as we wove our way through the streets of historic downtown. As we did, we passed bistros, restaurants, cafes…it was a food Mecca.

Shortly after starting on this Historic Downtown Food and Cultural Tour, I decided Roanoke Food Tours was another of Star City’s rising stars.

Our tour guide, Larry, himself, skillfully wove the history, culture, and the food of this city in an adventure. There was no shortage of great food – and fun – on this tour.”

Read the full article and see the photos >>>