September 13, 2002

Ellen Qualls
(804) 786-2211, x2379

Todd P. Haymore
Universal Leaf Tobacco Company, Inc.
(804) 359-9311
Jill Lawrence
(804) 371-0049
Universal Leaf To Expand Danville Operations
-Governor Warner applauds the creation of 38 new jobs, $28 million investment-

RICHMOND - Governor Mark R. Warner today announced that the U.S. division of Richmond-based Universal Leaf Tobacco Company, Inc. will expand and renovate its leaf tobacco processing plant in the City of Danville, creating 38 new jobs through a $28 million investment. Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina for the project.

“Universal has spent the last 84 years headquartered in the Commonwealth,” said Governor Warner. “I am pleased to see this valued corporate citizen provide new employment opportunities in Danville.”

Universal Leaf Tobacco Company was founded in 1918 and is headquartered in Richmond. The company is the largest independent leaf tobacco merchant in the world. As a leaf merchant, Universal is an intermediary between the farmers and the final product manufacturer. It deals in tobacco grown in all parts of the world and employs more than 26,000 people full time and seasonally. In the Commonwealth, Universal has leaf tobacco operations in Kenbridge and Danville and employs more than 700 Virginians. The Danville expansion will significantly enhance the company’s domestic leaf tobacco processing capabilities.

“Universal has processed leaf in Danville, a city with a rich legacy in the global tobacco community, since the company’s formation more than eighty years ago. With today's announcement, we are proud to build upon our history in Danville and provide more opportunities for citizens in the region,” said Henry H. Harrell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Leaf Tobacco Company. “We are also extremely appreciative of the assistance we received from local and state economic development officials in Danville and Richmond, as well as the efforts of Governor Warner. Indeed, the Governor's steadfast commitment to improving the economic well-being of the Commonwealth, and, in particular, Southside Virginia, is commendable.”

Governor Warner approved a $300,000 performance-based grant for Universal from the Virginia Investment Partnership, a program available to existing Virginia firms. The company also is eligible to receive further tax credits because it is locating in an enterprise zone. The Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the City of Danville Office of Economic Development assisted the company with its decision. The Virginia Department of Business Assistance will provide workforce training services.

“The City of Danville’s existing industries have a tremendous impact on our economy - improving our quality of life and increasing future opportunities with new technologies and better jobs. We salute Universal Leaf’s decision to invest in Danville and their continued commitment to furthering our rich tobacco history,” said Danville City Manager Jerry Gwaltney. “This announcement is a tremendous win for the City of Danville that highlights the positive business climate in our community.”


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