An indigo processing company is open for business in Robertson County. It's the first tenant in a building designed to house industrial startups.
In recent months, Stony Creek Colors has been working with local farmers to grow indigo plants, an alternative to tobacco, corn or other big-ticket crops. This building in Springfield is where the company will turn that indigo harvest into blue dye, mostly for denim.
At the plant's ribbon cutting, the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce handed out blue punch as Stony Creek founder Sarah Bellos took the mic.
"We're honored to become the new stewards of this fantastic building and craft the next chapter of its legacy," she said.
The 80,000 square-foot building is actually owned by the county, donated by a tobacco company that moved out several years ago. The idea is that startup manufacturers like Stony Creek Colors can rent space here relatively cheaply.
"You hear a lot about incubators for tech businesses and health care businesses," said Margot Fosnes, who leads the county chamber. "We hope this will be a manufacturing incubator."
And with new businesses, even small ones, come economic development: Stony Creek Colors, for example, expects to create 50 jobs over the next five years.
It will also expand beyond indigo. Bellos said her lab is developing several other textile dyes from natural sources, including brown, green and rusty red.