St. Louis’ strong and established agriculture and biosciences industries got a boost in April when a nonprofit formed to run the 39 North AgTech Innovation District.

The district has existed for years with entities like the Danforth Plant Science Center, Cities of Creve Coeur and Olivette and others helping bolster its presence, said 39 North Executive Director Emily Lohse-Busch. But coming out of the pandemic there were questions about how the district can and should move forward, she added.

“There’s more to do, there’s more that we can do,” Lohse-Busch said. “What is the best structure to carry this thing forward most effectively and leverage what it can be?”

The answer was establishing an independent nonprofit to directly lead the district and help relieve pressure on the entities that had been very involved in leading it, she said.

“It was very clear that there was a lot of activity and a lot of really good work happening and there was a gap in the ecosystem,” Lohse-Busch said.

She explained that gap was a standalone organization whose primary focus would be on developing the resources for a company looking to grow into a world-class agtech venture.

“How do we create conditions where it makes more sense for a company to either stay in St. Louis and build out whatever it is they’re going to be doing, or move here, if they want to do something related to agtech?” Lohse-Busch said. “And that we’re first to come to everybody’s mind.”

St. Louis Public Radio’s Eric Schmid recently sat down with Lohse-Busch to discuss 39 North and what lies ahead for the innovation district. LISTEN HERE