Since setting up its fully automated “Dutch Style” farm with 16 growing rooms in 2006, Premier Mushrooms Inc. has continued to develop, grow and add to Colusa County’s economy.
On September 25, more than 70 city, county, and state representatives with financial and business groups joined with Premier Mushroom team to celebrate the mushroom growers’ most recent expansion project.
The latest expansion brings the growing rooms up to 64 rooms with a production capacity of 280,000 pounds of mushrooms weekly. The farm produces white, Crimini and Portabella mushrooms. Significant in this expansion and to the economy is the fact the new growing rooms will also create nearly 50 new jobs bringing the total employees at the farm to more than 200.
The September 25 event provided guests with an opportunity to tour the farm and the new rooms with the packing facility. The new rooms are expected to be in full production by November 1 of this year.
Premier Mushroom’s board director Dwight Darling served as host for the event luncheon and remarked on the importance of community, business and government working together.
In welcoming guests, Premier Mushrooms CEO John Ashbaugh commented “it is said that it takes a village to raise a child; in business it takes trusted and strong partnerships with the community, all levels of government, banks, accountants, lawyers, employees and suppliers to succeed.”
“We owe many of our success to the individuals, organizations and companies that have been supportive over the last seven years,” he said.
During the celebration luncheon, several state and local officials spoke in support of the accomplishments Premier Mushrooms have brought to the Colusa economy.
Senator Jim Nielsen attended the early portion of the day but could not stay for the presentation. Speaking through his Field representative, Laura Nicholson presented Ashbaugh with a Senate Certificate of Recognition. Assembly member Dan Logue’s field representative Yvonne Henderson delivered a State Assembly Resolution on behalf of Assembly member Logue. Chief Executive Director of the Colusa County Chamber of Commerce Gary Teragawa presented a certificate of appreciation.
Other speakers were Jeff Lucas with Community Development Services which structured the grant for the project, Anna Caballero; Secretary Business Consumer Services and Housing Agency State of California, John Holder; assistant director of produce –Raley’s and Tony Gardiulo; Vice President, Farm Credit West and Colusa County Supervisor Mark Marshall.
Marshall commented that Ashbaugh had been the driving force in getting this most recent phase of expansion on the ground.
“This is huge for our county,” he said. “With the states support this has moved forward,” he said adding that it is critical the state continue to support projects like this one that impact lives. He added that this project will allow Premier to employ more than 200 people. “This is significant in a County consistently listed among the highest unemployment rate in the state.”
Marshall encouraged officials in the room to continue supporting projects such as the expansion of Premier.
Ashbaugh noted the state-of-the-art mushroom factory is a good example of how technology, science and agriculture have come together to provide an efficient and sustainable food source.
The farm/factory provides more than 200 jobs countywide, and produces more than $1 million in income to available each month in the county.
Ashbaugh thanked guests for helping to celebrate the expansion, but reminded them that this is just one milestone of many more to come. “We plan to double our production with Phase III tunnels, maintain our sustainability programs and incorporate renewable energy strategies,” he said.
Although Congressman John Garamendi was unable to attend the Sept. 25 event, he visited the farm earlier in the week. After touring the growing rooms and visiting with Ashbaugh and his team; Garamendi commented that he was very impressed and very pleased to see the mushroom operation. “I am absolutely delighted they have found an opportunity to develop and to meet the increasing demand for mushrooms in the regional supermarkets,” he said. Garamendi said that it was a great tour and opportunity to learn. “I look forward to continuing to watch Premier Mushroom’s progress,” he added.