PASA Business Member Common Wealth, Inc. Awarded Grant
Common Wealth Inc., in partnership with the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) has been awarded a grant for the "Rust to Green Initiative" which provides funds for construction, equipment, staff and operations for Common Wealth's Kitchen Incubator at the Lake-To-River Food Hub, and to the YNDC for their Iron Roots Urban project.
A press conference will be held at the Kitchen Incubator (901 Elm St, Youngstown OH) Thursday, November 29th at 11am-12:30pm, and will end with a light 30 Mile Meal of "locally-sourced good food" from the Kitchen Incubator entrepreneurs.
The grant will enable YNDC to build upon the momentum of the Iron Roots Urban Farm to facilitate market gardener training and community outreach and education. This increasing velocity will be magnified by the development of the Common Wealth, Inc. (CWI) Kitchen Incubator. The CWI Kitchen Incubator will scale this transformation through training, development, and support for food entrepreneurs. More specifically, the kitchen incubator will provide the necessary infrastructure to support the resulting food entrepreneurs and develop value added product and increased production. Further, the initiative will provide advanced training, business planning, and business development assistance, including development of distribution points for locally produced products. Taken together, these elements are a strong step forward towards a comprehensive food-based economic redevelopment strategy.
This strategic neighborhood transformation will hire, train, and create entrepreneurship opportunities for low-income community residents. In addition to job creation, this initiative will build and expand healthy food infrastructure, expanding local food offerings that will make fresh, affordable, nutritious food available to residents in food deserts throughout the City, providing food security. This replicable and sustainable model will serve as the catalyst for the green redevelopment of Youngstown.
“We are honored to be one of only 13 organizations across the United States to be selected for a significant investment from the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. This investment provides great momentum to our collective work to create a robust local food system and create new job opportunities in our neighborhoods,” said Presley L. Gillespie, YNDC Executive Director.
About YNDC’s Iron Roots Urban Farm: Iron Roots Urban Farm, a 1.7 acre working farm and training center on the south side of Youngstown, trains and encourages residents from neighborhoods across the city to start new food-based businesses, including market gardens, on vacant land. These new gardens become fresh food sources in distressed areas, while also stabilizing formerly abandoned land. The farm is also home to training programs that inspire young adults to enter the workforce in environmental fields, affecting the long-term social and environmental sustainability of the city.
About CWI’s Kitchen Incubator: The Kitchen Incubator is a dynamic facility that promotes economic development and food security by providing local food entrepreneurs with a place where they can launch their food enterprise or expand their current business. The facilities will include a certified commercial shared-use kitchen and processing areas, convection ovens, cold, frozen and dry storage, a thermal processing line and a training area. The kitchen incubator will also provide training and consulting to assist food entrepreneurs with business planning and marketing efforts.
About HHS CED HFFI: The US Department of Health and Human Services Community Economic Development (HHS CED) program is a federal grant program funding Community Development Corporations that address the economic needs of low-income individuals and families through the creation of sustainable business development and employment opportunities. CED's projects create employment opportunities that lead to increased self-sufficiency for low-income individuals through a variety of activities.
For a second year HHS CED joins the Departments of Agriculture, and Treasury in the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a multi-agency effort established by the White House to provide access to healthy, affordable food to people in underserved communities. This year OCS will award 13 organizations a total of $10 million in grant funding to organizations that plan to eliminate food deserts and provide access to healthy and affordable food. These projects will have an additional benefit to distressed communities by encouraging economic growth through the creation of employment and business development opportunities for low-income individuals.