Moving America Forward

How a Town’s Lettuce Fields Are Spurring a Tech Boom

January 1, 2014
How a Town’s Lettuce Fields Are Spurring a Tech Boom
John Moore/Getty Images
Officials in the farm town of Salinas, Calif., are hoping that Silicon Valley gurus will foster new agricultural tech.

The city of Salinas is located just an hour south of Silicon Valley, but technologically speaking, it’s eons away. The farm town, known for growing some of the best lettuce in the nation, doesn’t have adequate technology to produce and harvest it efficiently. So, in an effort to bring its agriculture industry into the modern age, this midsized city’s officials are doing something unprecedented. They’ve hired a venture capital firm — and invested nearly $300,000 of the city’s own money — to try to fund a startup incubator and attract talent from Silicon Valley. The goal is to foster new agricultural technologies that will modernize the city’s farms, and in turn create jobs and spur an economic revival. “We’re actually setting up a new business model, actually, for … most local governments, for most cities,” Ray Corpuz, Salinas’ city manager, told NPR. “None of them, that I know, in the state of California are doing this.” Other city managers think the venture capital fund is risky move, he said, but hey, there’s potentially a lot of green in the lettuce industry.

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