Every year, an astounding 1.3 million visitors flock to Agricenter International, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing the knowledge and understanding of agriculture. Located on 1,000 sprawling acres in Memphis, Agricenter’s popularity makes it one of the largest tourist attractions in Shelby County. Through education, research and other agritourism activities, it generates an annual economic impact of $524 million.
Agricenter International will be celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2019 with several key events, including the Feast on the Farm Gala. Known as the premier fundraiser for agricultural education, this signature event will take place June 22, 2019, where guests will enjoy honoring past leaders and look forward to the next 40 years of agricultural advancement in Memphis and beyond.
John Butler, president of Agricenter International, is excited about the steps the organization has taken toward building an even better future. The organization recently completed a 20-year strategic business plan and conceptual master plan with the support of the agricultural community.
Planned improvements include revitalizing the equine campus, which is expected to generate an additional $1.8 million annually in state and local taxes by 2020.
“If the improvements we’ve made to the equine facilities so far are any indication of what’s coming in the future, Agricenter’s ShowPlace Arena is going to be a shining star for our state,” Butler says.
Educating children on the importance of agriculture also plays an integral role in the nonprofit mission.
“We have 10,000 students a year who come to our campus to engage in a hands-on learning experience beyond the walls of a traditional classroom,” Butler says. “These students come here to learn about things like forestry, energy and solar power, conservation and recycling, the water cycle, careers in agriculture and where their food comes from.”
In addition to their focus on education, Agricenter International dedicates 600 acres to conducting research trials for more than 60 agricultural companies. Agricenter is also home to a $38 million greenhouse facility focused on cotton integration research. Other near-term initiatives include building out a 40-acre research and development park.
“The ability to attract additional agricultural companies to the state is an honor,” Butler says. “Agribusiness and agritourism continue to have a significant impact on local and state economies. Promoting Tennessee’s top industry is very exciting.”