MONROE — Union County is offering economic incentives to KW Collards to put down roots.
The company, which specializes in producing high quality collard greens, leases space in Mecklenburg and Iredell counties. Company officials reached out to Monroe-Union County Economic Development in September about opening a permanent location.
“What makes KW Collars unique is that they are 100% vegetarian and vegan and they are sold in glass jars to ensure flavor retention and long shelf life,” said Ron Mahle, assistant director of economic development for MUCED. “There is no meat whatsoever in this product.”
Mahle told commissioners Nov. 2 that KW Collards plan to invest $3.2 million into a permanent location that would include a 25,000-square-foot processing plant with a commercial kitchen, greenhouse and hydroponic system to grow tomatoes and green peppers for their product.
Kizito Wademi, president of KW Collards, told commissioners he’s looking for a 120-acre site that would produce about 20% to 30% of what the company needs. The rest will come from local farmers.
Commissioners approved a economic incentives of up to $60,800 over five years. The funding is contingent on the $3.2 million investment and creation of 10 full-time jobs. Company officials expect upwards of 38 jobs.
The company would also pay a projected $116,944 property taxes over the grant period.
Commissioner Stony Rushing said he couldn’t wait to get a jar to make some collard sandwiches.
“You would not believe the excitement in the room with all these country guys up here and you’re talking about collards,” Rushing said, noting some commissioners’ ties to agriculture. “This may be a great opportunity for our local farmers, especially small farmers to sell product.”
Jerry Simpson, who chairs the commission, has spent his career in agriculture, most notably as county extension director.
“Union County is extremely proud of our agriculture here,” Simpson said. “What a lot of people don’t realize is the extent of our diversity we have in our agriculture, and this project will only add to that.”