Bonnie Plants Inc. has broken ground on a new corporate headquarters in Opelika, bringing 60 jobs to the community and investing $7.9 million.
As part of the move, the company has entered into a partnership with Auburn University, including a gift to support two newly endowed scholarships at Auburn that will be given annually to a student in the university’s Harbert College of Business studying business analytics and the College of Agriculture to a student majoring in horticulture.
Founded in Union Springs in 1918 by Bonnie and Livingston Polk, Bonnie Plants is the leading brand for live vegetable and herb plants for home gardeners in the United States. Company officials hope the new Auburn-Opelika location will be a plus for recruiting and retaining associates. The company currently has 4,000 peak season associates and more than 80 greenhouse growing operations, selling plants in all 50 states, including at several major retailers.
The new Bonnie building is located in Tiger Town Corporate Park and is expected to open in late 2021. “The decision to relocate to Opelika was made easier by the strong partnership and support we received from city leadership,” said Mike Sutterer, CEO of Bonnie Plants.
As part of the partnership with Auburn, the company will support the Center for Supply Chain Innovation, where it will join several other companies in a public-private partnership to foster innovation and technology advancements in supply chain. In this role, Bonnie will engage with students and faculty to help solve real-world challenges in areas such as product development, logistics and analytics. In addition, it will provide in-kind support for multiple gardens across campus and outreach projects.
The company also will offer internship opportunities for students, as well as full-time positions, in an attempt to attract Auburn students and alumni to its team.
“We are grateful for this commitment from Bonnie Plants to not only support our students and faculty, but also to partner with our Center for Supply Chain Innovation,” said Annette Ranft, dean of the Harbert College of Business. “This investment will increase our ability to remain at the forefront of research and discovery as we prepare students to meet future industry challenges.”