AppHarvest has successfully campaigned to receive $50 million in government funding for their strawberry greenhouse in Somerset Kentucky.
AppHarvest’s CEO Jonathan Webb previously gave an impassioned speech at the Center for Rural Development last week where he outlined his goals for AppHarvest.
“That tenacity, the grit of economic development in rural areas across the county, I just don’t think people understand that at all,” said Webb about Somerset in his speech. “It’s those connections in communities that are tireless and relentless and won’t give on making opportunities happen. That to me 100% is more valuable than anything else.”
Now Webb has the capital to make the greenhouse a reality.
The Morehead-based company will receive the funding in the form of a pair of loans granted by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
This will occur through Greater Commercial Lending (GCL) which is a subsidiary of the Greater Nevada Credit Union.
This is according to a news release put out by AppHarvest’s President David Lee.
Said President Lee in the release, “Securing non-dilutive sources of capital to fund our growth has been a top priority since going public early last year, and I’m pleased with our team’s ability to source lower-cost funding in a higher-cost lending environment.”
The greenhouse is about 80% complete, claims AppHarvest, and will be made fully operation by January of 2023.
“This funding agreement with the USDA allows us to continue to scale operations as we plan to bring the Somerset farm and two additional CEA (controlled environment agriculture) facilities online before the end of the year, which would quadruple our farm network and diversify our product portfolio to include berries and salad greens,” continued Lee.
AppHarvest’s goal is to take advantage of the Global-Warming-induced record rainfall that Kentucky is seeing and will continue to see. Webb claims that, despite the fatal flooding that is being caused in Eastern Kentucky, the private sector will benefit from better growing conditions caused by the heavy rainfall.
“Part of the reason that we picked Kentucky… the Western part of the U.S.—we are in a massive decline in water that is going to forever change the landscape of this country. Fortunately for Kentucky, climate disruption is not treating all areas of the country equally,” said Webb in the earlier-mentioned speech.
AppHarvest claim its greenhouses operate on 90% rainwater, which will be benefitted by excess rainfall.
AppHarvest will use some of the funds to pay back an exsiting $46 million loan with J.P. Morgan that was used in part to fund the initial construction phase of AppHarvest’s Somerset farm.
The 30-acre strawberry greenhouse will join the already completed Morehead greenhouse and the soon-to-be-completed Richmond and Berea greenhouses.
All told, this year alone will see AppHarvest investing between $140 million and $150 million to complete the three facilities still under construction.
It will also see a near doubling of sales, and Webb hopes this will contribute to the economic success of Kentucky.