High-Tech Heats up Kentucky
Learn more about the projects, programs, and incentives that make technology thrive, in exclusive conversations with Deborah L. Clayton, Commissioner, Department of Commercialization and Innovation, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.
Susan Avery (Southern Tech Sites 2008)
Q. What are the most active areas of growth for technology in Kentucky?
A. Renewable energy is big in Kentucky. For example, Wind Energy Corp., a high-tech startup, recently announced that it will locate its manufacturing facility in Morgantown. The company will develop, manufacture, and sell unique, next-generation wind turbines to the "middle wind" market. Wind Energy's project will create 260 full-time jobs and represents an investment of more than $6.1 million in the south-central Kentucky region. We also have several biofuels projects in the works.
Another dynamic research and development area in Kentucky is biotechnology. Our Cabinet exhibited at the annual Biotechnology Industry Organization conference in San Diego, where we featured six biotech startup companies. These companies are all at the leading-edge of biotech research - for instance, two are involved in developing diagnostics and therapeutics for Alzheimer's-related proteins.
Q. What are two of the most exciting technology projects in Kentucky that were recently announced?
A. The University of Louisville (UofL) has announced plans for developing its NUCLEUS health-science campus, which will have an economic impact of over $2 billion and eventually create over 8,000 jobs in the area. With the support of the state and others, UofL is creating the region's next big life sciences center and will be at the leading edge of research and development in the health sciences for a long time to come.
One of Kentucky's largest biotech companies, Alltech, has just received $30 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to be used towards developing an advanced biorefinery. The plant will be located in the rural community of Springfield and will employ 93 people when operating at full capacity. Alltech's biorefinery will be one of the nation's first to utilize cellulose - such as switch grass, corn cobs, and corn stover - at raw material levels of up to 30 percent. This will be converted into ethanol and other value-added products.
Q. What new incentives are targeted specifically toward encouraging technology development in Kentucky?
A. The Kentucky New Energy Ventures Fund is a $5 million state program that invests in promising renewable and alternative energy companies in the commonwealth. The investments will target high-growth, early-stage Kentucky-based companies developing and commercializing alternative fuel and/or renewable energy technologies. Funds will be provided in the form of relatively small "seed" grants and, primarily, through equity investments of varying amounts.