Former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is leading an effort to expand the area around the stock show complex.

(Courtesy City of Denver)

Former Obama administration Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is leading an effort to expand the old north Denver stockyards to a 240-acre hub of agricultural innovation.

In addition to concert venues, farmers markets by the river and children's programs, Vilsack says researchers based there will also try to solve global hunger by researching crops that can grow with less water.

The effort, a partnership with Denver, Colorado State University and state officials, will eventually cost more than $1 billion, footed mostly by taxpayers. There will also be a commuter rail station stop.

Vilsack spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner.