Leading ag-tech company’s multi-million investment will create hundreds of jobs and provide berries to U.S. grocers and restaurants
A leading ag-tech company on a mission to feed the world from the heart of Appalachia announced today it will build a 30-acre indoor farm in Somerset-Pulaski County.
AppHarvest, Inc. (NASDAQ: APPH, APPHW), a public benefit corporation and Certified B Corp, is focused on farming more sustainably, using up to 90 percent less water than open-field agriculture and only recycled rainwater. The high-tech indoor farm, which will contribute to food supply year-round, will be located off Ky. 461 in the Valley Oak Commerce Complex and will grow berries.
Today’s groundbreaking brought together public officials from across the state to celebrate the project, including U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers and Gov. Andy Beshear, and was the culmination of months of work on behalf of the Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) to find the right location for AppHarvest’s facility and introduce them to Somerset and Pulaski County.
“As we march forward in our community to provide jobs of the future and an unmatched quality of life, being able to bring the rapidly growing ag-tech industry to Somerset and Pulaski County is an incredible win,” SPEDA President and CEO Chris Girdler said. “AppHarvest is the future of this industry, and this project is the perfect marriage between corporation and community. We are so proud to play a role in that and grateful for AppHarvest’s commitment to grow with us.”
AppHarvest’s 170-acre purchase is in an area of exceptional growth in Somerset-Pulaski County, Girdler said. In addition to the steadily expanding Valley Oak Commerce Complex, AppHarvest’s property is close to the new SPEDA Commerce Park, a 142-acre development that will offer certified build-ready sites to industrial prospects.
Both industrial parks soon will be enhanced by the construction of a cloverleaf interchange at Ky. 80 and Ky. 461 and the widening of Ky. 461. The $69 million road project will be complete in 2023, preparing the community and region for even more growth, Girdler said.
AppHarvest’s multi-million investment will bring hundreds of jobs to the community. The farm is preceded by the company’s flagship 2.76-million-square-foot facility growing tomatoes in Morehead; a 15-acre facility in Berea that will grow leafy greens; a 60-acre facility in Richmond that will grow vine crops; and an additional 15-acre facility in Morehead also announced today that will grow leafy greens.
AppHarvest’s facilities produce non-GMO fruits and vegetables free of harsh chemical pesticides, to be distributed to top U.S. grocers and restaurants. Because of the company’s strategic location in Appalachia, AppHarvest can reach nearly 70 percent of the U.S. population in a day’s drive, with up to 80 percent less diesel fuel compared to existing growers in Mexico and the southwestern United States.
“These new facilities place us exactly where we want to be at the forefront of ag-tech. With today’s dual announcement, we put ourselves ahead of our development schedule,” said AppHarvest Founder & CEO Jonathan Webb. “Our Somerset and Morehead farms will build on the success of our flagship farm to provide higher quality produce using cutting-edge technology at a large scale.”
AppHarvest’s goal is to operate 12 high-tech indoor farms by the end of 2025, and today’s announcement means five of those now have been put on the map. Construction for both the Somerset and Morehead facility is anticipated to finish by the end of 2022.
Pulaski County Judge-Executive Steve Kelley expressed excitement for the community to be able to witness this industry disruption up-close.
“Who would have imagined that southern and eastern Kentucky could be an industry leader in produce supply?” Kelley said. “With AppHarvest’s vision and determination, we have that chance. We welcome AppHarvest to our county with open arms, and we can’t wait to see its prosperity here. It is victories like these that make me proud of my county.”
Somerset Mayor Alan Keck said he looks forward to the growth that Somerset and AppHarvest can achieve together.
“AppHarvest is breaking ground literally and imaginatively across southern and eastern Kentucky, and the company’s record growth creates a beautiful synergy with the record growth we are seeing in Somerset and Pulaski County,” Keck said. “We share a vision for what this community and this region of Kentucky can become, that it can grow and thrive with the right nurturing and investment. We are thrilled AppHarvest chose Somerset and Pulaski County to expand and are honored to partner with this visionary company.”
Girdler said AppHarvest’s decision to plant its roots in Somerset-Pulaski County is the beginning of what is certain to be an incredible industrial harvest for the community.
“Today’s announcement is further proof that our holistic approach to economic development is working,” Girdler said. “We’re just getting started. We are thrilled to welcome AppHarvest to our community and join them in saying, ‘Let’s grow.’”
Learn more about AppHarvest at https://www.appharvest.com/.