Virginia sugar alternatives company Bonumose Inc. will invest $27.7 million to expand in Albemarle County in a partnership with The Hershey Co. to research and develop reduced or zero sugar chocolate products, creating 64 jobs, Gov. Ralph Northam announced.
Bonumose will move into 36,000 square feet of the former State Farm building to increase production capabilities and relocate its research and development lab from North Fork — A University of Virginia Discovery Park, an industrial park in Charlottesville.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the growth of Bonumose as it expands production and collaborates with other valued partners in the commonwealth,” Northam said in a statement. “This innovative company continues to advance our food and beverage processing industries. We look forward to a long and productive partnership with the company.”
Founded in 2016, Bonumose has developed and patented methods for continuous production of high-purity rare sugars like tagatose and allulose. The sugars come from starch byproduct left over from the company’s supply chain partners’ food production. Bonumose is also working on enzyme solutions for dietary supplements, crop protection, animal nutrition and other industries. In February, it announced the closing of Series B investments co-led by Hershey and American Sugar Refining Inc., the owner of the Domino sugar brand.
The region’s skilled workforce and access to the Port of Virginia have helped the company grow, Bonumose CEO and co-founder Ed Rogers said.
“Virginia, and more specifically, Albemarle County, has been important to Bonumose’s growth to date,” Rogers said in a statement. “The commonwealth’s leading research universities, thriving food production industry, natural beauty and quality of life in Central Virginia are second-to-none. Due to Bonumose’s business partners in other states and other countries, we have had opportunities to grow outside Virginia, but we are happy with our choice to deepen our roots here at home.”
The Virginia Economic Development Partnership worked with Albemarle County and the Central Virginia Partnership to secure the project, for which Virginia competed with Florida, Idaho and North Dakota. Northam approved a $256,000 grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Albemarle County. The company received a $300,000 grant from the Virginia Investment Performance Grant, an incentive for existing companies to continue capital investment. Bonumose is eligible to receive benefits from the Port of Virginia Economic and Infrastructure Development Zone Grant Program. The VED’s Virginia Jobs Investment Program will provide funding to support employee recruitment and training activities.