BrightFarms, Irvington, N.Y., secured $55 million in a Series D equity financing led by Cox Enterprises, Atlanta, and joined by existing investors Catalyst Investors, New York; WP Global Partners, Chicago; and NGEN Partners, New York. The financing enables the continued rapid national expansion of BrightFarms’ network of local and sustainable farms.
BrightFarms builds and operates greenhouse farms near major metropolitan areas to provide supermarkets with a year-round supply of locally grown produce.
For Cox Enterprises, BrightFarms’ investment supports a joint strategy in social responsibility and diversified growth. In 2007, the company launched its national sustainability initiative, Cox Conserves. Since then, it has invested more than $100 million toward environmental goals, including sending zero waste to landfill by 2024 and becoming carbon and water neutral by 2044. Cox also expanded its investment strategy to include sustainable technology businesses in water, energy and food and agriculture.
“Since our founding in 1898, Cox has embraced innovative, game-changing businesses in their earliest stages like radio, television, cable TV and broadband,” says Dallas Clement, chief financial officer of Cox Enterprises. “BrightFarms presents a unique opportunity to re-shape agriculture production and drive positive environmental change by growing in local, controlled environment agriculture farms. We are excited about the opportunity to support BrightFarms’ growth as it scales into a national brand.”
“Cox is a long-standing, successful investor and operator, with a proven track record across multiple industries and a long-time leader in corporate sustainability,” says Paul Lightfoot, BrightFarms’ chief executive officer. “We have a bold vision to change the way Americans get their produce, and this round will help us achieve our goals.”
David Blau, vice president of strategy and corporate development, and Lacey Lewis, senior vice president of finance, both for Cox Enterprises, joined the BrightFarms’ board of directors.
BrightFarms currently operates facilities in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Illinois. A new farm in Ohio will open this summer, followed by a Texas facility in early 2019. BrightFarms’ operations are said to use 80% less water, 90% less land and 95% less shipping fuel than long-distance, centralized and field-grown suppliers.