Litehouse, Inc., the Idaho-based company that bought Sky Valley Foods in Airside Industrial Park at Cane Creek Boulevard and plans to have 160 employees, held its grand opening Tuesday afternoon. 

"We are very excited for our future here in Virginia," Litehouse President Kelly Prior told the roughly 80 to 100 people who attended the event inside the facility. 

Litehouse Inc. cut the ribbon during its grand opening Tuesday afternoon by having an employee drive a forklift carrying products through it.    

The company, which closed on the sale of the property at 145 Cane Creek Blvd. on May 31, is bringing $46 million in investment and will add 110 employees over the next five years to the 50 workers already there from Sky Valley Foods.

Sky Valley had produced natural and organic sauces and salad dressings at the facility for nearly five years.

Litehouse, which operates manufacturing facilities in Idaho, Michigan and Utah, produces and markets refrigerated salad dressings, cheeses, dips, sauces, apple cider and freeze-dried herbs under the Litehouse label.

The products are sold through supermarkets, including Food Lion and Sam's Club in Danville, and warehouse clubs across the U.S. and Canada.

Brent Carr, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Litehouse, told the Danville Register & Bee there will be no job cuts at the facility. 

"We're looking to add people," Carr said during an interview before the ceremony.

How quickly the company hires new employees depends on when refrigeration equipment for dressings and sauces arrives, he said. 

The company continues to make Sky Valley brand products and will produce Litehouse and Organicville dressings and sauces as well. 

The Airside site is Litehouse's first manufacturing and food processing plant on the East Coast. 

"We believe Litehouse will be an ... employer of choice in the community," Mayor Alonzo Jones told those in attendance.  

Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball praised the community and efforts of local leaders in attracting Litehouse to the region. 

"It's a huge testament to all of you that the company picked this community," Ball said, adding that Southside Virginia offers a supportive environment for manufacturers to grow.

Litehouse is an employee-owned company that allows its workers to have stock ownership in the company.

"We're really impressed with the fact that you're 100% employee-owned," Ball told Prior during his remarks. 

The state-run Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with the city of Danville to secure the project. Gov. Ralph Northam approved a $600,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to help the city with the project.

Also, the Virginia Tobacco Commission has approved a $340,000 grant and a $220,000 loan for the project.

Neal Morris, chair of the Danville Industrial Development Authority, said, "To have a company like Litehouse in Danville is fantastic for us."

Morris said his wife buys their products. 

"Their blue cheese is absolutely outstanding," said Morris, also praised the buttermilk ranch. 

The jobs will include entry-level positions and management-level roles requiring previous operational and technical experience.

Available positions will be posted at Litehouse’s website at www.litehousefoods.com and through the Virginia Employment Commission.

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Crane reports for the Register & Bee. He can be reached at (434) 791-7987.

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