Plant Agricultural Systems (PLANT-AS) is back in the news, adding nearly 800 acres of North Florida development to its North American CEA expansion plans. The Baker County Development Commission announced that a public-private partnership with Florida-based PLANT-AS will move forward in Florida’s Baker County. The news builds on an April 4 action by the Board of County Commissioners approving an inducement and development agreement with the company.
The planned PLANT-AS site in Sanderson, Florida’s Woodstock Industrial property is slated for 8.1 million square feet of hydroponic CEA production facilities on 772 acres. The company’s projected $750 million capital expenditure for the development brings the county a welcome economic boost. As the operation scales over an eight-year period, PLANT-AS anticipates hiring more than 600 full-time employees with starting wages of $21/hour, plus benefits.
“This innovative project is an incredible win for Baker County and we thank Plant Agricultural Systems for bringing their investment and leading-edge technology to our region,” said Aundra Wallace, president of JAXUSA Partnership, a Northeast Florida seven-county regional economic development organization. “We look forward to working with the company and to the significant economic growth these 600 jobs will bring to Baker County.”
Darryl Register, Executive Director of the Baker County Development Commission & the Baker County Chamber of Commerce, added, “Plant Agricultural Systems’ Controlled Environment Agriculture Distributed Network Production Facility in Baker County will be transformational for our county. The capital investment, employee wages and benefits and overall economic impact will certainly bring about the most positive growth that a rural county can ever experience.”
Baker County Development Commission timelines for the project have the facility operational roughly two years after PLANT-AS closes on the property this fall.
Baker County’s news follows announcements earlier this month of PLANT-AS public-private development partnerships involving more than 1,100 acres in the West Texas cities of Lubbock and Amarillo. Like the Texas operations, the Florida facility will grow produce “including, but not limited to, leafy greens and vine crops such as tomatoes.” Renewable energy plays a role in operational plans for both regions: wind power in West Texas and solar power in Florida.
The Sanderson, Lubbock and Amarillo developments are part of PLANT-AS’ nearly 2,000-acre “Phase One domestic operations” rollout. The company’s Distributed Network Production Site (DNPS) model, targeting U.S. and international markets, includes multi-year buildout plans of 3,000+ acres of North American CEA facilities. Described by the company as modern data centers, the facilities will incorporate artificial intelligence, IBM blockchain-supported crop data systems, and other “state-of-the-art” CEA technologies.
Image: England-Thims & Miller, Inc.