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Helton to direct AgTech development


Bob Helton has been named executive director of Bluegrass AgTech Development Corp, a new organization that is cultivating an innovation ecosystem for entrepreneurs and startups in the agricultural sector.

Bluegrass AgTech was developed through a partnership among the City of Lexington, the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, the University of Kentucky Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, and Alltech.

“This partnership is focused on attracting agtech companies to Lexington and all of Kentucky,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “Lexington and Kentucky have all of the ingredients to become a major hub for high-tech innovation in agriculture, attracting good jobs and new companies to our city.”

Bluegrass AgTech will connect Kentucky’s agricultural innovators with both public and private funding sources and incentives to help transform Kentucky into the agtech capital of the United States. This effort will yield new agri-food and agri-business companies, boosting our economy and unlocking a more affordable, nutritious and environmentally sustainable food future for Kentucky and beyond.

Helton has over four decades of experience in business development and management, coupled with extensive involvement in economic development. He also has a background in agriculture. He was raised on a farm in eastern Kentucky.

“This is an exciting time to combine the worlds of economic development, agriculture and technology to make Kentucky the national and international focal point of agtech,” said Helton, who has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Morehead State University. He has advanced training in sales/marketing, strategic planning, negotiating, community economic development, and business management. He is the former chair of the Kentucky Association of Economic Developers.

Bluegrass AgTech will soon introduce its challenge grant program, aimed at attracting agtech and food-based businesses to Kentucky by offering incentive funding, valuable resources and promotional opportunities. Details will be shared during the organization’s launch event and news conference at 1 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Lexington Brewing and Distilling Company, 401 Cross St.

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