An innovative new business set to open in Morehead later this year will bring a wealth of opportunities for Morehead State students, graduates and alumni, as well as to the community as a whole.
AppHarvest is an agricultural production company that is currently building a 60-acre greenhouse in Rowan County. The greenhouse will use solar power and innovative agriculture technologies and techniques to grow produce. It is the realization of the vision of Chief Executive Officer, Jonathan Webb.
Webb’s background is in building large-scale projects for the energy industry. After working in New York City, and Washington, D.C., for a decade, he came back to Kentucky to begin working to bring his vision of a large-scale agricultural operation to fruition.
“Morehead is going to be our flagship facility, and I hope the Morehead community can be proud to be home to this facility,” he said.
A graduate of the University of Kentucky, Webb grew up outside Lexington and spent time in Eastern Kentucky visiting his grandmother in Whitley County. He said he knew that he wanted his company to be in a college town in Eastern Kentucky, where the decline of the coal industry has left room for innovative new businesses to stimulate economic growth.
“I had a passion for large-scale development in energy. I just wanted to build stuff and the only areas in energy that are building are wind and solar,” Webb said. The idea for AppHarvest came to him when he noticed a problem with how Americans receive their produce. Webb said much of the produce consumed in America is grown in Mexico and countries in Central and South America, taking up to a week to ship to stores. Webb said his idea is simple: to combine resilient energy systems and innovative agriculture practices to grow produce locally year-round that can be distributed to cities throughout the Eastern U.S.
“Place is important, and we are in Morehead because of Morehead State University,” Webb said. “It’s one of the most outstanding universities in the state and the long-term opportunity of working with MSU is something we’re very excited about.”
AppHarvest will provide internship opportunities to students in a wide range of degree fields, including agriculture, business, economics, finance, communication, marketing and more. Webb said students from all degree fields are encouraged to apply for AppHarvest internships.
“The attributes of the individual student will be most important,” Webb said. “We’re looking for people who can adapt, evolve and change with an industry that is rapidly changing. We’re building something new, and outside perspectives are always good.”
Webb said he hopes to see spin-off companies and other entrepreneurial opportunities created through his company’s partnership with MSU.
For more information about AppHarvest, visit www.appharvest.com.