The Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA) has announced a public-private partnership with Plant Agricultural Systems (PLANT-AS) that stands to put West Texas in the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) spotlight for years to come.
The massive project will see Florida-based PLANT-AS develop more than 1,100 West Texas acres for state-of-the-art CEA production. Part of the company’s “Phase One domestic operations” rollout, the Lubbock project will include 13.3 million square feet of hydroponic CEA production just north of downtown, on 700 acres inside Lubbock’s East Loop. The fresh produce facility is slated for “but not limited to” leafy greens and vine crop production.
Amarillo — about 120 miles straight north — is set to get in on the action, too. The Amarillo Economic Development Corporation (AEDC) worked in partnership with LEDA to bring the project to pass. As a result, PLANT-AS operations will include 400 acres in Amarillo with 9 million square feet of advanced CEA production facilities, in addition to the Lubbock buildout.
LEDA reports that PLANT-AS’s capital expenditure for the Lubbock project should inject $670 million into the local economy. As operations scale over the next decade, PLANT-AS anticipates the operation will have more than 900 full-time employees with an expected payroll of $45 million. The Amarillo operation, a projected $510-million investment for PLANT-AS, is planned to scale over the next seven years to more than 700 full-time employees with an expected payroll of $35 million. Renewable energy from readily available West Texas wind power is a key component of the development plans.
“As the U.S. population continues to climb, and Texas doubles its population by 2050, the need for more domestic food is vital,” said LEDA President and CEO John Osborne. “The expansion of PLANT-AS through this regional partnership not only helps provide food for our growing population, but more importantly provides certainty in our food security with cutting-edge technology that traces where and how food is produced.”
PLANT-AS Director of Global Brand Representation Sara Gaul added, “The end-to-end impact PLANT-AS will have on existing food systems begins with the agricultural process and extends all the way through the consumer experience. We are thrilled to be a part of the economic growth in West Texas. Together, we are building infrastructure for the future, and people are at the core of everything.”
The Phase One rollout is part of much bigger PLANT-AS plans. The company’s Distributed Network Production Site (DNPS) model spans multiple U.S. and International markets and includes a planned multi-year North American buildout of 3,000+ acres of advanced CEA facilities. Described as modern data centers, the production facilities will be supported by artificial intelligence and crop-cycle data collected and processed via IBM blockchain-supported systems.
Image courtesy of LEDA: “Lubbock City Leaders, LEDA, and PLANT-AS announce public-private partnership”