FRANKFORT — Building on Kentucky’s iconic agriculture, food and beverage industries, a new entity has been created to cultivate an ecosystem for agribusiness entrepreneurs and startups, hoping to make of the state the agricultural technology capital of the country.
Bluegrass Ag Tech Development Corp. Board of Directors includes representatives from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, City of Lexington, University of Kentucky and Alltech.
Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles cited Kentucky’s global dominance in the equine industry, expansion of bourbon production, genetic advancements in poultry, and advancements in sustainability in agriculture. no-till as selling points to attract agribusinesses. Kentucky offers traditional state business incentives, as well as agricultural resources such as funding, networking, and marketing support for startups.
Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton sees this as an opportunity to make the Lexington and Fayette County area a thriving Ag Tech hub, saying her proposed budget includes $1 million to launch the Bluegrass Ag Tech Development Corporation.
“Advancing agricultural technology as an economic development initiative was a major focus of my first term,” she said. “Good, well-paying jobs will come from this public-private partnership.”
Dean Nancy Cox of the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment said the effort complements the college’s education, research and outreach.
“A vibrant Agricultural Technology Center will provide more opportunities to develop new research collaborations and innovations, while providing more opportunities for UK graduates to stay in Kentucky and work in these new agricultural ventures,” Cox said. . “With a presence in all 120 counties of Kentucky, the University of Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service provides training and technical assistance that helps growers across the state benefit from new agricultural technology innovations.”
The board’s next step is to begin the search for a CEO.