Hemp fiber processing company opening headquarters, facility in southern Virginia
RICHMOND, Va. — A hemp fiber processing company is opening an $18 million headquarters and production facility in southern Virginia, the most recent processor to open its doors in the commonwealth.
FyberX Holdings, a Williamsburg developer of technology to process raw biomass into natural fiber, plans to open its new headquarters in a former distribution center in Mecklenburg County, which rests on the North Carolina border. The new facility will process hemp and other agricultural products, producing fibers to supply the textile industry, and will create 45 new jobs.
“This industry provides a sustainable alternative for industrial and consumer products that will also bring economic benefits to Virginia communities and farmers, and we look forward to a successful partnership with FyberX,” Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said in a statement.
A FyberX representative did not respond to an e-mail for comment.
The company, founded in 2019, focuses on industrial hemp sources in the United States and will process hemp for the textile, packaging, and construction industries. FyberX plans to build a green supply chain by working with industrial hemp and other non-tree sources of fiber and establishing centralized large-scale processing centers throughout the country, the company said in a statement.
The state worked with Mecklenburg County to secure the project for Virginia. Youngkin approved a $150,000 state grant to assist with the project. The Virginia agriculture department will help hemp producers in the state sell to the company, according to a statement.
“Industrial hemp fiber has great potential in Virginia, and FyberX can unlock that potential and create a sustainable market for the Commonwealth’s hemp producers, with its investments into the processing infrastructure for this crop,” Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry Matthew Lohr said.
“Southern Virginia is strategically positioned to play a vital role in unlocking the economic potential of industrial hemp fiber in a variety of markets including textiles, construction, packaging, automotive, and bioplastics,” Ben Young, CEO of FyberX, said in a statement. “The Mecklenburg County facility and anticipated future facilities across the South East of the United States will expand the availability of domestically grown and processed hemp fiber while simultaneously providing a substantial economic benefit to not only Southern Virginia, but its neighboring states.”
States across the region are trying to develop a processing infrastructure to stabilize small communities of growers who have begun raising the crop since its production was legalized in the 2018 Farm Bill. A University of Maryland Extension agent said earlier this month that the industry would struggle to survive without a significant processor in the state.
Still, planting rates for hemp in the region have been variable as the industry finds its footage. In 2020, registered Virginia growers planted 2,200 acres. Last year, they planted just 350. Initial reports suggest about 600 acres have been planted this year, said Michael Wallace, an ag department spokesperson.
Levi Sellars, an industry representative on the Maryland Agricultural Commission, announced new data offering a snapshot of the industry at the commission’s Nov. 9 meeting. Maryland boasts 62 licensed hemp producers who raise more than 6,500 acres for different markets. About 200,000 square feet of that is in greenhouse production, he said. Nearly 70 percent of the state’s hemp is produced for the floral market. About 17 percent is grown for fiber. About 5 percent is raised for grain, and 8 percent for seed.
“It really shows that the Maryland hemp industry is powered by floral and CBD,” Sellars said.