Lexington announces $750,000 grant to help city become ‘international address’ of ag business

The Bluegrass AgTech Development Corp announced $750,000 in grants available to small agriculture technology and food-based businesses located in Kentucky.

The Bluegrass AgTech Development Corp is a partnership between the City of Lexington, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and Alltech. Together, they are aiming to support agriculture and food-based businesses in Kentucky, with a focus in the first round of funding on entrepreneurs and startups in agriculture.

The grants announced Wednesday aim to help connect businesses to public and private funding opportunities, provide mentorship and bring new agriculture businesses to the state.

“We want to become the international address of agtech business,” said Mayor Linda Gorton. “As the expertise within our Bluegrass AgTech partnership demonstrates, with this program, we’ve got everything a new business needs to be successful in agtech or food-based technology.”

In the first year, $750,000 will be available, with the potential for an additional round of $750,000 available next year. Applications for the grants opened Wednesday, and will close March 1. Grants are available for businesses who currently have or are willing to establish a presence in Kentucky.

Bob Helton, executive director of Bluegrass AgTech Development Corp, said he hopes additional partners will be added so the program can continue to grow.

Applicants can apply for up to $100,000, and grant recipients will receive additional support, including professional services and business development assistance. To be eligible, applicants have to provide matching contributions for their grant.

“We want to make sure that Kentucky is the first destination when people think about bringing a good idea to market that helps improve our food systems, our nutrition, our environments and help productivity on the family farm,” said Ryan Quarles, Kentucky’s agriculture commissioner.

Projects in the first year should fit into one of five focus areas:

  • Solutions for mid-size farming

  • Sustainable food systems

  • Food is health (addressing health needs through nutrition)

  • Future-proof animal protein (building secure protein sources for the growing population)

  • Kentucky traditions, including the state’s equine, food and beverage sectors.

“Bluegrass AgTech’s innovation ecosystem will lead to the development of technologies that boost productivity and profitability for farmers, support advancements in environmental sustainability and achieve greater nutrition and food security,” said Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech. “These technologies will be highly relevant to our Kentucky ag sectors and those that will emerge in the future.”