Startup indoor farming company Hydroponic Farms USA will invest more than $44.5 million in Eastern Kentucky’s Breathitt County and create 121 jobs with the construction of a new facility on a reclaimed mine in Jackson, Gov. Matt Bevin announced.
“The announcement of 121 full-time jobs in Breathitt County is wonderful news for Eastern Kentucky and its skilled workforce,” Gov. Bevin said. “It has been our administration’s mission to provide better job opportunities in every part of our state, and this investment is evidence that we are achieving that goal. We are truly grateful for this vote of confidence in the commonwealth. Hydroponic Farms USA will be a great fit for the Jackson community, and continues the economic momentum that is building in Eastern Kentucky.”
Hydroponic Farms USA will build a nearly 42-acre facility with 35.5 acres of production space. The facility will use hydroponic and aeroponic technology to grow leafy greens, tomatoes, peppers and other produce. The 121 jobs will include leadership, production and post-production roles. Company leaders plan to break ground following their land purchase and approval of permits.
“Appalachia has much to offer the world in terms of natural beauty and abundant resources, but what really makes this place special is its people,” said Tim Davis, managing member of Hydroponic Farms USA. “We knew the moment we set foot in Breathitt County, that this was not only a perfect place to build our business, but also a place we could proudly call home. Our investors have been humbled by the overwhelming support of Kentucky’s state and local government representatives. Moving forward, we are committed to building positive relationships with all of our new neighbors in Breathitt County and doing our part to create real opportunities for people. With the agronomic and technological expertise provided by our partners at Green Ag Technologies, we are proud to bring the future of farming to the area and make a significant impact on the produce industry.”
Hydroponic Farms USA is working to develop and implement advanced hydroponic and aeroponic technology and innovation. To do so, the company was formed a partnership with Oz Agribusiness Projects and Investments Ltd. (OAPI) and Green Ag Technologies LLC to manage and operate the facility.
“Bringing OAPI’s Israeli greenhouse technology and expertise to Breathitt County has been a priority for our organizations since we first introduced Kentucky to the concept of high-tech agriculture over three years ago,” said Curt Meltzer, chief operating officer of Green Ag Technologies. “It has been a long road, with OAPI’s first stop in Lincoln County, but the cabinet’s decision today marks the first step toward making that goal for Eastern Kentucky a reality and expanding our network of high-technology greenhouse operations across the state. The future of farming is indeed in Kentucky."
Hydroponic Farms USA will follow a similar business model to Kentucky Fresh Harvest, which broke ground in Lincoln County in January 2017 and also is managed by OAPI. Currently, the company is working with major retailers and wholesalers to secure contracts to supply their customers with fresh produce year-round.
Kentucky Commissioner of Agriculture Ryan Quarles said the project is a good fit within the commonwealth’s evolving agricultural profile.
“Kentucky has a long tradition of being a leader when it comes to agricultural innovation,” Commissioner Quarles said. “Whether it is no-till corn, industrial hemp or hydroponic farms like this one, Kentucky agriculture continues to thrive. Today’s announcement is the result of the hard work done by Governor Bevin and Think Kentucky to attract new and exciting businesses to our old Kentucky home.”
Sen. Brandon Smith, of Hazard, noted the strides being made in eastern Kentucky.
“I am pleased to welcome Hydroponic Farms USA, an entrepreneurial company investing nearly $45 million into our community, to Breathitt County,” Sen. Smith said. “I am proud that eastern Kentucky continues to welcome startup companies on the forefront of innovative technological development, and I look forward to Hydroponic Farms USA’s success as the newest face in the indoor agriculture industry.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) in March preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $1.83 million through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
Additionally, KEDFA approved the company for up to $250,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
In addition, Hydroponic Farms can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies can receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. In fiscal 2017, the Kentucky Skills Network provided training for more than 120,000 Kentuckians and 5,700 companies from a variety of industry sectors.
(provided by Office of the Governor)