VOL. 133 | NO. 24 | Thursday, February 1, 2018
Agricenter Master Plan Hopes to Serve as a ‘Compass’ for Future Development
By Patrick Lantrip
Agricenter International hosts more than 1.3 million visitors a year and has an economic impact on the region of more than $500 million, but those numbers could soon balloon as it looks to build its 20-year Strategic Business Plan and Conceptual Master Plan.
Given the 1,000-acre campus touches so many people on a yearly basis, Agricenter president John Butler said incorporating public input into master plan is absolutely critical.
“We have some basic ideas framed up, but thought that it was really critical for the number of people who have experiences with the campus to really have an opportunity to have a formal, structured meeting to allow the public to have that feedback,” Butler said.
Butler said that when the master plan is unveiled in May, individual projects could begin rolling out in as little as six months, depending on the nature and scope of the construction.
Point A Consulting collected input for Agricenter’s 20-year master plan from attendees at a public meeting Monday, Jan. 29, at Ducks Unlimited. (Daily News/Patrick Lantrip)
Louisville, Kentucky-based Point A Consulting was tapped to design the plan with funding from FedEx Corp., the Shelby County Commission, Agricenter International, Helena Chemical and Asgrow.
Point A president Steven Spalding said his company decided to tackle the plan in segments since the campus naturally falls into certain clusters of activity like the Innovation District, Events District and Experience Center.
“The campus plan will address things that we can do in each part that builds on the existing, while bringing a lot of new activities,” Spalding said. “The plan is for 20 years, but I would say that the next three years are going to be an incredibly busy time for the Agricenter.”
The possible projects vary greatly in size, scope and function. Some of the more exciting projects Butler and Spalding said are already in consideration include a welcome center, demonstration farm and a startup incubator in the Innovation District.
“To have a place where people of like minds can gather and formulate great strategies moving forward that would help to lift and promote the industry,” Butler said of possibly having an ag-based incubator on campus. “We absolutely love the way that is starting to sound.”
Spalding said another crucial building block is finding a way to keep the influx of traffic during events from disrupting resident tenants.
“The big events just bring in so many people, so we are looking at things like how would you create a roadway system that could segregate the traffic so that people who come here for the events can get in and out better than today,” he said.
Spalding also said it was important to note that the Agricenter’s master plan is deliberately being developed as a conceptual plan.
“It’s not going to be detailed right down to the last nail, so to speak, but what it will say is here are the building blocks,” he said. “We will come up with something that is like a compass that says we want to go that way. If you think of it in a 20-year timeframe, things will blow you off of the course, but the compass should always bring you back to the center.”