Southwest Indiana is known for its specialty crops, specifically melon production. And there is an effort to make the greater Vincennes area an agriculture technology hub. That mission involves The Pantheon, a coworking and business incubator in Knox County. CEO Nichole Like discusses the effort in this week’s episode of the Ag+Bio+Science podcast with AgriNovus Indiana.

“Our mission is to grow more businesses in our local community, grow businesses that can build wealth in our rural community,” said Nichole Like, chief executive officer of The Pantheon, during the latest episode of the Ag+Bio+Science podcast presented by AgriNovus Indiana. “We have to offer the middle-class meaningful opportunities in rural America if we hope to keep our young people here right and young families, [who] are the building blocks of local communities.”

Like says as economic development leaders were undergoing strategic planning, they knew they needed to look at the assets in the region and seize the opportunities growing in the fields of Knox County.

“We’re number one in specialty crop production, not only in Indiana, but in the Midwest. We grow more melons, than almost any other county in the United States,” Like said to AgriNovus podcast and Inside INdiana Business host Gerry Dick. “High value specialty crops. So how do we leverage that into a competitive advantage for our region? And of course, you have to embrace technology, innovation, digitization, how do we bring all of that into our community?” 

Part of the answer involves Lafayette-based Wabash Heartland Innovation Network. In June, WHIN announced it was launching an agtech pilot in southwest Indiana, in partnership with AgriNovus and The Pantheon. From that, the Southwest Indiana Innovation Network was born.

The initial technology involves digital sensors for grain bins.

“For every farmer that we visited, most wanted to sign up for this technology, which allows them to monitor their grain bins on their phones through an app that basically gives them a heads up about a week earlier than they would with conventional grain bins sensing technology,” explained Like.

Listen to the full Ag+Bio+Science podcast when it comes out Monday morning. Gerry’s conversation with Nichole also includes the history of The Pantheon Theater, and efforts to restore the 100-year-old structure in downtown Vincennes.

And be sure to click here for the full lineup of Inside INdiana Business podcasts.