West Texas Provides Fertile Climate for Greenhouses
Sowing the seeds of success
> For Mike DeGiglio, CEO of Village Farms, the first fruits of the tomato vine in Monahans, Texas, mark a step towards success and recouping the $45 million investment in the first 30-acre greenhouse of four planned at his company’s newest Texas site.
Navy veteran DeGiglio is a co-founder of the Canada-headquartered company that has grown to be the second largest hydroponic vegetable grower in North America. The Monahans facility’s first phase was completed with the first seeds sown in November 2011. Monahans became the third West Texas community with Village Farms greenhouses and the first working example of a fully enclosed growing facility developed at the company’s Marfa research facility.
“We’re incredibly proud of what we have accomplished on our own,” DeGiglio says. “This greenhouse is the most high-tech in the world.”
”WE’RE INCREDIBLY PROUD OF WHAT WE HAVE ACCOMPLISHED.”
Rural sites pose challenges
Successful production for more than a decade is a testament to the intelligent scientific and business decisions behind locating in the Upper Rio Grande. However, reaching the capacity of workforce and natural gas supply meant Village Farms had to look for another community to expand its Texas operations,” DeGiglio says.
A new labor market, available infrastructure and a good site within reach of the company’s existing expert management team factored into Village Farms selecting Monahans, 36 miles west of Odessa, for its new Texas growing site. The decision is good news for economic developers working to grow business and employment prospects for the Monahans community.
“We worked with them extensively for four or five months, says Morse Haynes, Monahans Economic Development Corporation (EDC) director. “There were five things they needed: electricity, natural gas, water, carbon dioxide and availability of land. We can’t really provide a lot of incentives, but we had the right place at the right time.”
The EDC uses Type A sales tax proceeds to buy land and has prepared three industrial parks with caliche pads and close proximity to utility connections. Monahans has been successful recruiting support companies for the oil and gas sector, but attracting Village Farms is a big coup, and one that Haynes says he hopes will provide the impetus for housing development.
Monahans Chamber of Commerce is a local host for Village Farms’ Dallas-based human resources division distributing and accepting applications and providing office space for interviews.
“We help them set up interviews and get applications to the site foreman,” says chamber Executive Director Teresa Burnett. “We are also helping them with advertising and helping them set up meetings with area community leaders.”
Burnett has high praise for Village Farms’ “remarkable people.”
“They really do have our community at the front of their list and want to do what is best,” she says. “We are helping them to get the beat of the community.” TR