IALR and the Virginia Tech Center for Economic and Community Engagement received a grant to help grow the Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) sector in GO Virginia Region 3. The $77,053 grant will fund development of a strategy and roadmap for supporting industry growth and workforce development for CEA throughout the region. The effort will include an analysis of this emerging and dynamic agribusiness sector, including its industry and economic growth potential, while identifying needed facilities and infrastructure, workforce development issues, opportunities and applied research assets.
“A key outcome of the study will be to identify future needs and opportunities to support controlled agricultural production facilities and the underlying business investment for use by local and regional economic development and workforce development organizations and professionals,” said IALR Director of Applied Research Dr. Scott Lowman.
Controlled Environment Agriculture is an opportunity to attract and expand agribusiness investments. For instance, AeroFarms recently broke ground on a $53 million investment to build one of the largest aeroponic vertical farms in Danville. Nearby on IALR’s campus resides the focal point of the grant initiative, the Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center, which is a partnership with Virginia Tech’s School of Plant and Environmental Sciences.