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The Plant Pathways Company, a plant breeding company specializing in improving crops, with a focus on food and medicinal plants, announced today the opening of research and development facility in Sanford, North Carolina. This project, a partnership between Plant Pathways, North Carolina State University (NCSU), and other private industry leaders, will conduct innovative research with the goal of replacing sugar with stevia, a natural sweetener and sugar substitute, in soft drinks.

The research and development facilities, located at 1042 Dalrymple Farm Road in Sanford, currently grows stevia in roughly 1,000 square feet of greenhouses, and 40-45 acres of field space. The Plant Pathways Company was formed as a result of eight years of breeding, genetics, agronomic, biochemistry, and consumer sciences research at NCSU and PepsiCo. The three founders of the company, Gabe Gusmini, Todd Wehner and Mercedes Murua, bring a combined 85 years of experience in corporate and academic crop improvement, and utilize ten employees, with three open positions, plus an active Board of Directors and advisors with four highly experienced entrepreneurs and executives from agriculture and finance.

“We are very enthusiastic about establishing our HQ and core R&D facility in Sanford, NC, at Dalrymple Farms. For us founders, this new adventure is the peak of our careers,” remarked Plant Pathways CEO and Co-Founder Gabe Gusmini. “We got involved in plant breeding with a common goal: making a difference in securing nutritious food for everyone, regardless of where they live or who they are. When it comes to making a big difference in nutritional content, we truly believe that nothing can be more impactful than getting sugar and artificial sweeteners out of the picture.”

To learn more about The Plant Pathways Company, visit:

Response from local leaders
Lee County Board of Commissioners Chair Kirk Smith: “Lee County’s history in agriculture is as rich as its soil, and we welcome “Plant Pathways Company” for choosing our community to conduct their incredible, industry-changing research. Congratulations to the entire Plant Pathways team – we look forward to seeing tremendous benefits and future opportunities for our agricultural community.”

Sanford Mayor Chet Mann: “Congratulations to Gabe, Todd, Mercedes, and all involved with The Plant Pathways Company on this announcement. The City of Sanford is thrilled to welcome an organization so dedicated to groundbreaking research and development. Our community has become a hub of innovative companies, and Plant Pathways’ work is the epitome of innovation. Their decision to join our community reemphasizes the effectiveness of our Open for Business Agenda, as well as the importance of our proximity and partnerships with industry-leading research institutions. Best wishes and welcome to Sanford.”

Sanford Area Growth Alliance (SAGA) Board of Directors Chair April Montgomery: “The Sanford Area Growth Alliance whole-heartedly welcomes The Plant Pathways Company to the Sanford-Lee County community. We are fortunate to live in an area where both public and private sectors work together to the benefit of our citizens, and we could not be happier that Plant Pathways has chosen to join our family of local businesses.”

SAGA Economic Development Manager John Dean: “Building on its agrarian history and culture, this project demonstrates the potential of a new and exciting agricultural economy, connecting cutting-edge research initiatives at NC State with the agricultural heritage of Lee County. We expect Plant Pathways to be the leader in this new economic sector that capitalizes on both the past and future of Lee County.”

About our partners
In addition to The Plant Pathways Company and North Carolina State University, other key partners in this project include Dalrymple Farms and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.