HudsonAlpha commissioned report illustrates that Dothan and Wiregrass region are ripe for AgTech innovation and entrepreneurial growth!

HudsonAlpha Article.

DOTHAN (March 28, 2024) – A recently released report has identified a number of tangible advantages unique to the Wiregrass region to enhance and expand innovation and entrepreneurial growth of the region’s agricultural technology (AgTech) base.

Commissioned by HudsonAlpha Wiregrass as a key component of its economic development mission, the report was conducted by economic consulting firm Boyette Strategic Advisors of Little Rock, Ark. Results are Wiregrass Region-specific information, based on 2024 quantitative data, research and interviews.

AgTech represents the application of technology to farming and is a growing part of the U.S. economy. The industry uses technology to address problems and challenges related to increasing crop yields, improving drought tolerance, reducing reliance on chemicals, adjusting to changing climates, increasing demand for food, strengthening the farming community and bolstering the rural economies.

AgTech sectors include agricultural genomics, plant science, drones and UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), precision ag technologies and software, and research and development for peanut production and poultry processing.

“This report is encouraging and confirms what we’ve thought about our region for a long time: Dothan can be a national leader in agricultural technology,” said Mayor Mark Saliba of the City of Dothan. “It’s why I and the City Commissioners committed to working with local, regional, and statewide leaders to expand the area’s potential. Growth in the local ag tech field will improve our quality of life and provide high-skilled, high-wage jobs, right here in the Wiregrass.”

The report found that the Wiregrass Region has competitive advantages for AgTech entrepreneurs and seasoned businesses by building on the historic success, climate and location, strength of farming communities, capable workforce, and strategic focus of governmental, business, educational, and community leaders.

Points from the report of significant importance include:

  • Proximity to large peanut production, as half of all peanuts grown in the U.S., are grown within 100 miles of Dothan.
  • Readily-available pipeline of ag-related workforce throughout the region
    • Nearly 10,000 ag-related jobs
    • 7 higher education institutions currently offer AgTech curriculum
  • Technology development and testing at nearby Fort Novesel
  • Legacy of entrepreneurial success and business growth

Each of these points present multiple opportunities for the region.

“This report was a necessary part of HudsonAlpha Wiregrass’s strategy for the region,” said Dr. Neil Lamb, president of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology.“Through the economic and workforce research and the dozens of interviews with people living and working in the Wiregrass, we now have the actionable information needed to build upon the current work that began in 2022. Opportunities abound in the Wiregrass and we look forward to working closely with the City of Dothan and many other Wiregrass region partners to enhance economic growth and workforce development.”

About HudsonAlpha Wiregrass

In 2022, HudsonAlpha announced the expansion of its physical footprint outside of its longtime home in Huntsville. The public-private collaboration with the city of Dothan is called HudsonAlpha Wiregrass and extends HudsonAlpha’s agricultural focus in the region through agricultural research, economic development and genomics education.

Next year, HudsonAlpha Wiregrass will be the anchor tenant of the planned Wiregrass Innovation Center. This 45,000-square foot City of Dothan facility is funded by the state of Alabama and the Wiregrass Foundation and Construction on the Wiregrass Innovation Center will begin this year and open in 2025.

The Wiregrass Innovation Center will serve several major functions, including being a home for hands-on training and practical learning in science, genomics, research, technology and innovation, and will create an ecosystem for entrepreneurs and innovators in Dothan and the Wiregrass area.

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