Six months after breaking ground on a 263,000-square-foot hydroponic greenhouse where two million pounds of salad greens will be grown in Penn Township, BrightFarms is hiring 20 employees.
The Irvington, N.Y.,-based company is holding a job fair at the VFW Post 6631 in Selinsgrove off Route 522 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
"We're hiring 20 full-time green-collar workers (employed) in jobs that are changing the way Americans are eating," said Matt Grant, a senior marketing manager. The entry-level positions in growing, transplanting, harvesting and packaging will pay $11.75 per hour plus health care benefits.
The new hires will start working the first week of December. The greenhouse is scheduled to open in late January and begin shipping produce to grocery stores by early February, he said.
The greenhouse already employs a three-member management team that includes Tony Paar as general manager; Todd Miller as production manager and Chris Hennessy as head grower. All three will be at the job fair, Grant said.
"This is just the first phase," he said. "Opening a greenhouse takes a lot of work and is done on a gradual basis. We expect to hire additional workers in 2020."
The greenhouse is located on a 21-acre lot in Pawling Station off Route 522 and is the largest of the company's five facilities, Grant said. The others are located in Bucks County, Pa.; Ohio, Virginia and Illinois.
The opening of a year-round agricultural business in Snyder County "is exciting," said Bob Garrett, president and CEO of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The company offers an apprenticeship program, one that Hennessy took part in two years ago, he said.
Grant said the company was established in 2011 and is "rapidly expanding. Chris started with us two years ago and now he's leading our largest greenhouse."
Snyder County Commissioner Joe Kantz said the company's $22 million investment is significant.
"This is not just a new business moving in, but brand new jobs," he said.
BrightFarms is exempt from paying property taxes until 2029, a benefit that Kantz said was instrumental in attracting the company into the county.
"Tax-free zones are everywhere," said Kantz, adding that with a multi-million investment in the community, "We know they're not going to move out after 10 years."
Grant said the company will hold a grand opening event in January.