Asheville, N.C. (June 14, 2023) – In conjunction with the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County (EDC), today Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn announced plans to invest $4.3 million in new Asheville operations. The investment will increase production capacity sixfold for the locally-founded snack maker and more than double the company’s existing manufacturing space adding 45,000sf of new state-of-the-art production facilities on Gerber Road and a headquarters office and retail flagship in downtown’s thriving South Slope. The expansion will facilitate the creation of 66 net new jobs in the next 5 years with an average wage of $26.40 per hour. New career opportunities will include positions in professional management, sales and distribution, food science and production with entry level positions starting at or above local living wage.
The company is a graduate of the Venture Asheville Elevate Program, the high growth entrepreneurship initiative of the EDC, and has been recognized as one of the region’s fastest growing start-ups as ranked by the Annual Venture 15 and Sky-High Growth Awards. Since launching in 2014 as a small-batch producer and a one-woman operation on Merrimon Avenue, Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn has grown to employ over 45 staff today and established itself as a top consumer choice for gourmet popcorn. The company has seen dramatic growth across various retail channels as an emerging national brand in the growing $2.3 billion U.S. Popcorn Industry. Poppy provides over 30 different flavors – from every day to premium and sweet – using high-quality, simple, all-natural ingredients. Through successful and innovative collaborations with fellow Asheville-based brands such as French Broad Chocolate, Spicewalla, Highland Brewing, Biltmore and others, Poppy has continued to embody the “go local” ethos of the region. Competing against national popcorn brands recently on Tasting Table, Poppy’s Parmesan & Black Pepper ranked #1 in the United States.
In March of this year, company founder and CEO Ginger Frank announced a successful $3 million Series A funding round, led by JACS Capital, the family office of former GE CEO and investor Jeff Immelt. The expansion funding comes at a critical time of growth for the company, which has experienced 150% YOY demand growth each year since 2018. “Poppy has always been a community brand,” said Frank. “We are deeply grateful for the support from the Venture Asheville community and countless partners over our 8 years in business. We are proud to be growing in place, and true to our roots as a sustainable and values-driven business headquartered in Asheville.”
“The County Commission is excited to support the expansion of Poppy Popcorn, cementing its strong foundation here in Western North Carolina,” shared Brownie Newman, Chairman of the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners. “This expansion also affirms that our economic development strategies fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and advanced manufacturing are growing economic opportunity for our residents today.”
“Success stories like Poppy Handcrafted Popcorn have tremendous impact on the economy of Asheville,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer. “Beyond the great value of new jobs and community investment, these expansions strengthen our national reputation as a hub for purpose driven business and thriving entrepreneurship.”
“The EDC Board of Directors is incredibly proud of the company’s growth coming out of the Venture Asheville Elevate Program just a few short years ago,” stated EDC Board Chair Jay Richardson. “Poppy’s success truly embodies the hopes of the AVL 5×5 Strategic Plan, growing the next generation of Asheville headquartered business with exactly the kind of high wage careers, inclusive hiring and philanthropic practices that have made Poppy’s such a celebrated Asheville brand.”
Partners in the expansion include Buncombe County, the City of Asheville and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County. For more information about the company and related employment opportunities, visit https://poppyhandcraftedpopcorn.com/.
About the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County
The Economic Development Coalition (EDC) for Asheville-Buncombe County is a public-private partnership committed to: creating and retaining high quality jobs, community leadership, and being a resource for better business decisions. The EDC accomplishes this mission through its five core services: business retention and expansion, entrepreneurship, marketing and recruitment, workforce development and Riverbird Research. The EDC is funded by Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce and the AVL 5×5 Campaign. For more information, visit www.ashevillechamber.org/economic-development.
About Asheville Chamber of Commerce
For 125 years, the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce has been the catalyst for economic vitality in our community. The Asheville Chamber connects member organizations, both large and small, to valuable resources such as economic development and research, business education, marketing opportunities and advocacy. Asheville Chamber initiatives have stimulated economic development, influenced public policy and supported the growth of thousands of local and regional businesses. Learn more at www.ashevillechamber.org.