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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

AppHarvest, a Morehead, Ky.-based developer of large-scale tomato greenhouses, is going public via a reverse merger with a SPAC called Novus Capital (Nasdaq: NOVSU). The company would have an initial market value of around $1 billion.

Why it's a BFD: This is about to be a "unicorn" based in one of America's poorest congressional districts. AppHarvest CEO Jonathan Webb tells Axios that the company will employ around 350 people in Morehead by year-end, and that its location allows its product to reach 75% of the continental U.S. within a one-day drive.

  • Details: The merger would include $375 million in new equity commitments from Fidelity, Inclusive Capital, and Novus Capital. AppHarvest previously raised around $160 million in VC funding firms firms like ValueAct Capital, Revolution Rise of the Rest, and Equilibrium Capital.
  • AppHarvest directors include Martha Stewart, J.D. Vance, Jeff Ubben, and Impossible Foods CFO David Lee.
  • The bottom line: “We looked at lots of ag startups, but a lot of time we found a desire to build tech for its own sake without a really good business model or understanding of how to bring the produce to market. But here they already had distribution agreements and were growing produce at scale with defensible margins.” — J.D. Vance, AppHarvest director and early investor, tells Axios

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
Oct 6, 2020 - Economy & Business

Tech investor Chamath Palihapitiya bets big on Medicare Advantage provider

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Conventional investor wisdom is to steer clear of next month's election, due to its inherent uncertainty and consequential volatility. But, this morning, Chamath Palihapitiya bet big on a company whose fortunes may be significantly impacted by the presidential victor.

Driving the news: Clover Health, a tech-enabled provider of Medicare Advantage plans, agreed to go public via a reverse merger with a Palihapitiya-led SPAC called Social Capital Hedosophia Holdings III (NYSE: IPOC).

Corporate America finds downside to politics

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Corporate America is finding it can get messy when it steps into politics.

Why it matters: Urged on by shareholders, employees and its own company creeds, Big Business is taking increasing stands on controversial political issues during recent months — and now it's beginning to see the fallout.

Church groups say they can help the government more at border

A mural inside of Casa del Refugiado in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Stef Kight/Axios

Despite the separation between church and state, the federal government depends upon religious shelters to help it cope with migration at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Why it matters: The network supports the U.S. in times of crisis, but now some shelter leaders are complaining about expelling families to Mexico when they have capacity — and feel a higher calling — to accommodate them.