PARKERSBURG - Specialty food producers in West Virginia could benefit from a grant to the state of West Virginia to help export their products.
The state will receive $100,000 from the Appalachian Regional Commission through the $1.5 million Global Appalachia Initiative to help companies use the technology and training in marketing to international customers. Among the targeted West Virginia companies are Uncle Bunk's in Sistersville, which makes condiments, ThistleDew Farms, Proctor, which produces honey, Oliverio's Italian Style Peppers in Clarksburg and Tasty Blend Foods of Fraziers Bottom, a maker of cornbread and biscuit mixes.
The state is targeting 17 companies in West Virginia state for inclusion in the have been identified for possible inclusion in the program, called Exportech, Cindy Martel of the state Department of Agriculture said. The goal for the businesses to participate in the 2012 Summer Fancy Food Show in Washington, D.C., where they can meet with potential international buyers, she said.
"The folks that do this are very creative, they have a lot of energy, and they're always looking to expand their markets," commission Chairman Earl F. Gohl said. "It's a group of specialty foods that aren't mass marketed, for the most part."
Grants also are going to state development offices in Alabama, Georgia, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky and South Carolina, which received $300,000 for its Export Consortium.
Announcement of the grant was made Monday at the Capitol Market in Charleston where Gohl and other officials tasted samples of the food products. Sales of $150 million over three years are possible, Gohl said.
Among those attending the announcement at the Capitol Market in Charleston included Gohl, U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia Commerce Secretary Keith Burdette and Agriculture Commissioner Gus Douglass. Sen. Jay Rockefeller sent taped message that said the grant will create jobs and get the economy get back on track.