Local Prawn Farmers Expanding Markets

Jun 22, 2010, 07:00 ET from North Carolina's Eastern Region

SNOW HILL, N.C., June 22 /PRNewswire/ -- A Greene County based organization, the American Prawn Cooperative (APC), is expanding the market of local prawn farmers thanks to an innovative quick freeze process.  This process freezes the crustaceans individually and greatly expands the life of the product, resulting in a fresher, tastier prawn.

After construction of the American Prawn Cooperative facility in Castalia in 2009, one thing was missing, according to Greene County Planner and Economic Developer, Chris Roberson.

"We knew the construction of the facility was a precursor to much larger things," Roberson said. "The one component we were missing was the quick freeze unit that would allow the prawns to be packaged in smaller units and shipped to many other markets across the country."

Value-added agriculture is a growing economic cluster in eastern North Carolina and is one of several targeted for development by North Carolina's Eastern Region (NCER).  Like many counties in the east, Greene has traditionally been very tobacco-dependent.  According to Roberson, this prawn project has given tobacco farmers something else to rely upon.  "This is value-added agriculture at its best," Roberson said.

Partnerships were a key factor in getting this project off the ground.  APC received numerous grants totaling $792,000:

  • NC Rural Economic Development Center - $300,000
  • NC State University – Technical Assistance through Cooperative Extension
  • Golden LEAF - $50,000
  • Rural Advancement Foundation International  - $30,000
  • Tobacco Trust Fund - $200,000
  • US Department of Agriculture Value Added Program- $197,000
  • North Carolina's Eastern Region - $15,000

"APC could have chosen any one of six counties to locate this facility and we are so excited they chose Greene County," Greene County Commission Chairman Denny Garner said.  "We talk about regionalism; this is regionalism in its truest form."

North Carolina's Eastern Region is a 13-county partnership established by the General Assembly to promote economic development in Nash, Edgecombe, Wilson, Lenoir, Pitt, Wayne, Greene, Duplin, Jones, Onslow, Pamlico, Craven and Carteret Counties. The region encompasses almost 7,000 square miles stretching from the eastern fringe of the Research Triangle to the Atlantic Ocean and has approximately one million residents. NCER's targeted markets for economic development are value-added agriculture, life sciences, aerospace/defense, advanced manufacturing, marine trades, and tourism and retiree attraction.

For more information, please contact John D. Chaffee, President & CEO of North Carolina's Eastern Region, 252-522-2400 or chaffee@nceast.org.

SOURCE North Carolina's Eastern Region