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Today's Interview: UPIKE wins more funding for ag-tech research facility

Webb Credit Larry Eppling.PNG
Larry Eppling
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The University of Pikeville hopes a new agricultural research facility in Pike County will be operational in two years. The school won funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission and the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The money will be used to build the UPIKE Ag-Tech Innovation Center of Excellence.

University of Pikeville President Burton Webb said the project will help to diversify the region’s economy.

“The greenhouse production and AppHarvest and their vision for this region, along with other things like tourism and manufacturing, and the service industry and competing industries, all of those things together, create for a much stronger economy for Eastern Kentucky. And if we can be a part of that, that's important,” said Webb.

Research at the site will focus on seed development, environmental conservation practices, and controlled-environment farming.

The center is expected to produce 250 jobs and three new regional businesses.

President Webb said those businesses could manufacture items to support high-tech agricultural ventures in Kentucky.

“In this industry, making sure that the things you produce in the things that you use, are biodegradable and sustainable is incredibly important. Things as simple as boxes that are used to transport the tomatoes from one place to another, they need to be sustainably produced and biodegradable,” said Webb.

Webb said, ideally those supporting businesses would be within the local economy. The UPIKE president added that those companies would be able to test their products at the research facility.

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Samantha is WEKU's All Things Considered Host and also reports on news of interest in the commonwealth. Sam is a graduate of Morehead State University and worked for MSU's Public Radio Station WMKY.
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