Mushroom company to sprout in Hardeeville

gsmith@islandpacket.comDecember 11, 2012 

Shiitake, Maitake and other gourmet mushrooms soon will be grown in Hardeeville and served in restaurants and grocery stores around South Carolina.

Gourmet mushroom producer amFOG Farms LLC announced plans Tuesday to move its headquarters and construct a state-of-the-art production facility near Hardeeville. The company will continue its operations near Charlottesville, Va., as well.

The new $1 million facility is expected to generate seven jobs, according to the state Department of Commerce. More jobs could be added in 2014.

"Jasper County provides an excellent location for our operation because of the easy access to (Interstate-95,) I-16 and I-26 and proximity to our growing markets," said Chris Sywassink, amFOG's general manager.

The new location will aid the company's expansion into the Southeast. Long term, the company hopes to supply mushrooms to businesses across the Lowcountry, as well as in Georgia and northern Florida.

It currently ships mushrooms to 17 Savannah restaurants, including Local 11 Ten and Noble Fare, Sywassink said.

In Hardeeville, the company will produce gourmet mushrooms in a controlled, indoor growing environment. It expects to produce 1,500 pounds of mushrooms per week and 78,000 pounds during the first year of operation in 2013.

Gov. Nikki Haley applauded the investment.

"We work hard every day to show businesses that South Carolina is the right place for them to do business," Haley said in a statement. "It's always exciting when a firm chooses to put down roots in one of our state's rural areas."

The company plans to begin construction in the first quarter of 2013 on the new facility on U.S. 17, south of Hardeeville.

Since January 2011, South Carolina has recruited more than 2,200 jobs in the agribusiness sector, according to the state Department of Commerce.

Follow reporter Gina Smith at twitter.com/GinaNSmith.

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