New Vertical Farming Operation to Create 125 High-Wage Jobs in Boone CountyJanuary 27, 2022
Ohio-based 80 Acres Farms to invest $74 million, establish first Kentucky location
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 27, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced continued growth within Kentucky’s agritech sector, as 80 Acres Farms moves forward with plans to locate a new vertical farming facility in Boone County, which will create 125 well-paying jobs with a $74 million investment.
“Agritech growth is a major part of our effort to create a sustainable economy that works for all Kentuckians, and I am very pleased to welcome 80 Acres Farms to the commonwealth,” Gov. Beshear said. “These well-paying jobs will create quality opportunities for our workforce. I want to thank the company’s leaders for locating in Kentucky and I can’t wait to see the facility up and running this year.”
The operation will locate in an existing 200,000-square-foot building on more than 22 acres. The facility will be converted into a vertical farming operation to serve the local market and is expected to begin operations in Q3 2022. It will include a high-tech indoor vertical farm and harvesting, packaging and distribution capabilities for leafy green, microgreens, berries and tomatoes. Once fully operational, the controlled-environment farm will produce millions of servings of local, fresh produce for the surrounding area.
“Opening a farm in Boone County will allow us to grow closer to our retail partners in Lexington and Louisville and introduce our fresh, healthy, locally grown produce to many more Kentuckians,” said 80 Acres CEO Mike Zelkind. “We’re always looking for ways to increase our impact, and this farm is the biggest step forward for us yet, more than doubling our total production and growing our footprint outside Ohio.”
Founded in 2015, 80 Acres operates indoor farms using 100% renewable energy and without the use of pesticides. The company’s flagship farm, located in Hamilton, Ohio, has capacity to grow 10 million servings of produce annually. 80 Acres currently operates eight farms and produces a range of food products, including salad blends, microgreens, tomatoes, basil and cucumbers, with plans to begin production of strawberries. The company supplies more than 300 Kroger stores nationwide, as well as other regional grocers.
Kentucky’s food, beverage and agritech sector continues to grow with the addition of 80 Acres. Currently, the industry includes more than 350 facilities and employs over 52,000 people. Since the start of 2020, new location and expansion projects within the industry are expected to create more than 2,600 full-time jobs with over $1.8 billion in new investments.
Boone County Judge/Executive Gary Moore celebrated the announcement of a new vertical farming facility in Northern Kentucky.
“80 Acres is on an impressive growth trajectory, and we are thrilled to have their first location in Kentucky in Boone County,” Judge/Executive Moore said. “We welcome the 125 new, high-paying agribusiness jobs and the first high-tech, vertical indoor farm in Northern Kentucky.”
Northern Kentucky Tri-ED CEO Lee Crume noted the newest 80 Acres fresh produce farm offers access to consumers throughout the Cincinnati region and the commonwealth.
“80 Acres is leveraging its science and technology to grow its products and scale its supply chain with much success,” said Crume. “A lot of collaboration with Duke Energy, Boone County and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development brought this project to fruition. I’m excited to buy 80 Acres’ Kentucky-grown produce at my local Kroger.”
The planned investment and job creation furthers recent economic momentum in the commonwealth, as the state builds back stronger from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2021, the commonwealth shattered every economic development record in the books. Private-sector new-location and expansion announcements included a record $11.2 billion in total planned investment and commitments to create a record 18,000-plus full-time jobs across the coming years. Kentucky’s average incentivized hourly wage for projects statewide in 2021 was $24 before benefits, a 9.4% increase over the previous year.
In September, Gov. Beshear, Ford Motor Co. Executive Chair Bill Ford, CEO Jim Farley and Dong-Seob Jee, president of SK Innovation’s battery business, announced the single largest economic development project in the history of the commonwealth, celebrating a transformative $5.8 billion investment that will create 5,000 jobs and places Kentucky at the forefront of the automotive industry’s future.
Kentucky also saw an all-time, record-setting budget surplus in fiscal year 2021 and enters 2022 with an estimated $1.9 billion more than budgeted.
Kentucky recently placed seventh overall in Site Selection magazine’s annual Business Climate Rankings. The commonwealth ranked third nationally in the 2020 projects per capita ranking and fifth in the 2021 Prosperity Cup rankings, positioning the state among the national leaders for business climate.
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) today preliminarily approved a 10-year incentive agreement with the company under the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based agreement can provide up to $2 million in tax incentives based on the company’s investment of $74 million and annual targets of:
- Creation and maintenance of 125 Kentucky-resident, full-time jobs across 10 years; and
- Paying an average hourly wage of $45 including benefits across those jobs.
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.
By meeting its annual targets over the agreement term, the company can be eligible to keep a portion of the new tax revenue it generates. The company may claim eligible incentives against its income tax liability and/or wage assessments.
In addition, 80 Acres can receive resources from Kentucky’s workforce service providers. Those include no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job-training incentives.
For more information on 80 Acres Farms, visit 80AcresFarms.com.
A detailed community profile for Boone County can be viewed here.
More information on the Governor’s AgriTech Initiative is available at AgriTech.ky.gov.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at CED.ky.gov. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion at facebook.com/CEDkygov, on Twitter @CEDkygov, Instagram @CEDkygov and LinkedIn.