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Tennessee company secures investment for ag-fiber manufacturing facility

Genera will use locally grown grasses and other agricultural crops to make compostable food service packaging products.

Genera has secured more than $118 million in new investment for its first manufacturing facility to produce its Earthable line of sustainable agricultural fiber products.

Genera will use locally grown grasses and other agricultural crops to make compostable food service packaging products like plates, bowls, and takeout containers at its new manufacturing facility in Vonore, Tenn.

“With this new investment, we can begin to answer the increasing demand for environmentally conscious solutions with a truly farm-to-table product made in America,” said Kelly Tiller, president and CEO of Genera. “We’re excited about the new revenue stream we can offer our local farmers. Our Earthable plant-based paper and packaging products really resonate with consumers. We are passionate about delivering sustainability improvements to the marketplace while making positive impacts in rural economies.”

The financing was anchored by an equity investment from WindSail Capital Group, which partnered with investors Coppermine Capital and Stairway Capital in the Genera financing.

The fibers are derived from locally grown high-yield, conservation crops like switchgrass and biomass sorghum. Genera has already begun to work with local East Tennessee farmers to produce the feedstock it will use in its new manufacturing facility and is actively seeking additional farm partners in the region.

TennEra LLC, an affiliate of the University of Tennessee Research Foundation, has leased its former biorefinery in Vonore to Genera for the development of the new manufacturing facility.

Genera’s fiber production facility is expected to be ready to deliver Earthable products to the marketplace in 2020, initially bringing 80 new jobs to Vonore. The company will begin hiring in early 2020, including skilled operators and maintenance positions.

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