Lexington, Ky. – Blue Grass Stockyards, which lost its longtime facility just west of downtown Lexington to a three-alarm fire Jan. 30, will rebuild on Ironworks Pike adjacent to the I-75 interchange, company and public officials announced today in a news conference in the lobby of Lexington’s Government Center.
State economic development officials gave preliminary approval Thursday for $300,000 in tax incentives for $11.9 million in investment for a new facility. The incentives negotiated would be $30,000 annually for 10 years and be contingent on Bluegrass Stock Yards maintaining a minimum 20 employees with wages and benefits of at least $20 an hour.
“Lexington has been our home for 70 years,” said Jim Akers, chief operating officer. “It’s part of our culture; our roots are here. And its central location, near the interstates, is convenient for our farmers.”
The new facility on Ironworks, which will be adjacent to the I-75 interchange, is designed for easy access for farmers, Akers said. The stockyards was previously located off Forbes Road, near Leestown Road.
Mayor Jim Gray said the business is very important to Lexington.
“Blue Grass Stockyards is to cattle what Keeneland is to Thoroughbreds,” Gray said. “It is the biggest cattle market group east of the Mississippi River. Because of its sales volume, it effectively sets the cattle price structure for the entire Eastern United States.”
Noting that the state has one cow for every four residents, Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles said today’s announcement is a big step toward restoring this important market for livestock producers in Kentucky and throughout the eastern United States.
“Blue Grass Stockyards is working with partners in business, government, and agriculture to get back on its feet quickly, but also with consideration on how it can best serve its customers going forward,” Quarles said.
The business helps keep Lexington green, Akers said.
“The Blue Grass countryside is valued for its beauty,” he said. “The market provides an economic reason for that countryside to exist, and it creates opportunity for young people to return to the family farm.”
Last year, approximately 106,000 animals were sold at the Lexington market, plus another 50,000 sold on-line out of the Stockyards offices in Lexington. Farmers were paid approximately $200 million for that livestock. Altogether, at its seven locations in Kentucky and through on-line sales, the market buys about $600 million in cattle each year.
“Agriculture is a vital industry in Fayette County and Central Kentucky,” said Bob Quick, Commerce Lexington president & CEO. “The Blue Grass Stockyards is a signature marketplace for our thriving cattle industry. Today we pay great respect to the Blue Grass Stockyards, as we show them our deep commitment to stay and grow in Fayette County.”
Commerce Lexington viewed keeping the operation in Lexington as an important business retention project.
“We went all out,” said Quick. “In this county we are very committed to agriculture”
Quick mentioned in his comments that he grew up in east Illinois on a 150-year-old corn, soybean and livestock farm and that he had delayed entering college for two years to be active on a national level in the Future Farmers of America organization.