By Betsy Finklea
The groundbreaking was held for The East Nile Farms on Thursday at Heritage Drive in Lake View.
Dillon County Economic Development Director Tonny McNeil welcomed Dillon County’s newest industry. He said it was a $15.5 million investment and 200 new jobs. McNeil said South Carolina is open for business and so is Dillon County. “We’re in the business of getting results,” said McNeil.
Otis Neals, President/CEO of The East Nile farms, said he would like to say thank you to the wonderful people of Lake View and their leadership, who he said had a great vision.
Neals said he believed at East Nile that they had the know-how, the right team, the technology, and the people to make their vision become a reality. Neals said in their first phase they will produce over 622,000 plants per month. He said they will be the largest inside grown, hydroponic facility on the East Coast. Neal’s said they will be a green facility, a safe facility, and a highly productive facility. He said bringing good quality product and good safe jobs to the community are their goals. Neals said they have a wonderful partner in Grassroots Inc.
Ron Acorn, President of Sonaray, said they had a technical team that will be working with Neals on the project. He said their philosophy is how we can make you successful. Acorn said they would grow 20,000 -30,000 heads of Romaine lettuce a day. He said as the future population grows they will produce food and products close to population centers. He said indoor farming will transform food production with LED lighting and other technology. He said overtime this will reduce the price of food while producing high quality, nutritious food. “We’ll be a strong partner in the community,” Acorn said.
Haywood Proctor, chairman of the 501(c)3 Dillon County Public-Private Partnership, said no one was more excited than he was about this project. He gave the invocation.
Beverly Gurley, Founder of a non-profit organization called, Grassroots and a native of Dillon County, said she worked with Neals to form The East Nile Farms. She said they will accept donations and volunteers for the Grassroots organization. Nora Neal, co-founder of Grassroots, said she was elected to be part of the team Neals chose and she looks forward to working with him more and more as the industry grows.
Clint Leach, Assistant Commissioner of the S.C Department of Agriculture, said he was very excited to have The East Nile Farms in South Carolina and to have them as part of the state’s largest industry-agriculture. He said he had a great deal of confidence that they would be looking at an expansion in the near future.
Representative Jackie Hayes said this was “a great day in lake View” and had been “long coming.” He thanked several people and said this was just the beginning. He said this was “an industry that fit the community.”
Bill Crowder, Economic Development Director for Congressman Tom Rice, said it was a great day in Lake View and read remarks.
Dillon County Council Chairman Archie Scott said he was excited about what is going on. “It takes team work to make the dream work,” said Scott. He said teamwork made this dream work.
Dillon County Administrator Rodney Berry said we have so much opportunity here. He said Dillon County is “Alive on 95,” and “we are just getting started.”
Lake View Mayor Matthew Elvington said he was very excited for the town, and the town was blessed to have a company “that fits us.” He said Lake View has been without a local, thriving industry for 15-20 years. He said the town has been drying up, but hopefully that was going to change. He thanked East Nile for choosing Lake View. He said Lake View is ready to work for East Nile, and he hoped East Nile is ready to work with them.
After the remarks, a ground breaking was held.
For more information, please visit www.theeastnilefarms. com
By Betsy Finklea