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Kentucky and Rhode Island roll out new proposals to boost innovation

January 27, 2022

Attracting investment to a coal-dependent region with a state-of-the-art AgriTech research and development center is under consideration in Kentucky while Rhode Island is proposing greater investment in developing its blue economy. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and Rhode Island Gov. Daniel J. McKee have both targeted new innovation initiatives to grow their state’s economy in their recently proposed budgets.

Beshear’s proposed 2022-2024 budget calls for $75 million to support a state-of-the-art AgriTech research and development center in the heart of Eastern Kentucky, focusing on controlled-environment agricultural production, horticultural innovation, and technological solutions to the agricultural and food supply challenges facing North America. It is expected that this project, along with companion initiatives, would attract well-paying jobs and national and international investment in Kentucky’s most coal-dependent and economically disadvantaged region. 

His budget also proposes an investment of $10 million from the general funding in FY 2023 to the city of Covington to support the construction and fit-out of a shared research and development lab facility to serve the rapidly expanding life sciences research and development sector in the region. This initiative is a collaboration among the City of Covington, several life sciences companies, the regional economic development organization, the entrepreneurship ecosystem and higher education. 

In Rhode Island, the governor has proposed using ARPA funds in FY 2023 to advance the state’s blue economy with a $70 million investment in a number of fields, such as ports and shipping, defense, marine trades, ocean-based renewables, aquaculture and fisheries, and tourism and recreation. This investment would support the development of a Smart Bay platform for developing and testing new technology, and the creation of a Blue Technology Innovation Center for businesses to collaborate on shared challenges, workforce development, renewables infrastructure, and seafood technology.

The governor is also calling for spending $30 million to grow Rhode Island’s life sciences sector. Funding will support the creation of a shared wet lab space for startups and support for technology transfer to make it easier for research generated by institutions of higher education to be used by the private sector.

Kentucky, Rhode Islandstate budget