Thursday, March 09, 2017

$50 million greenhouse on reclaimed mining land in Ky. could help boost Appalachia economy

Efforts have been made in Appalachian to revitalize local economies through means other than coal. One such project is a planned $50 million high-tech greenhouse on 70 acres of reclaimed mining land in Eastern Kentucky that could provide up to 130 full-time jobs, Jere Downs reports for The Courier-Journal in Louisville. The greenhouse would be located in Pikeville, Ky. (Best Places map) which has an unemployment rate of 8.7 percent, well above the state average of 4.5 percent.

The greenhouse "would grow tomatoes, bell peppers and other vegetables under glass," said AppHarvet CEO Jonathan Webb, who said he is raising funding from angel investors and expects to break ground in June, Downs writes. The project would include a 45-acre hydroponic greenhouse. "Covering two million square feet, the greenhouse can produce 2.6 million pounds of vegetables annually."

AppHarvest CEO Jonathan Webb scouts
land for the greenhouse (AppHarvest photo)
The greenhouse has gotten the support of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who said, "This project presents a fantastic opportunity to help our Appalachian region continue its rejuvenation," Downs writes. The project also has received "preliminary approval for $2.5 million in state tax incentives from the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority."

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