Caroline Heine, co-founder and project director of Seed Capital KY in Louisville, Ky., agrees.
She’s working on getting the West Louisville FoodPort
up and running. “We’re trying to increase the volume of
distribution. Research published in 2012 identified a significant demand in Jefferson County for local food. What
the West Louisville FoodPort can do is complement the
other efforts already underway, such as farmers’ markets
and locally-sourced food restaurants. We have significant unmet demand,” she says. “We’re a public-private
partnership. We wouldn’t be having this conversation if
not for the leadership of Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer.”
For Farm Fresh Rhode Island, its winter farmers’
market brings in 2,000 to 3,000 people every week
between November and May. “It’s the biggest in New
England and those visitors bring money into our local
economy,” says Rye.
Revitalizing Blighted Areas
Heine sees food hubs as a way to revitalize communities
in not just rural, but urban downtowns as well. The West
Louisville FoodPort is more than just a food hub, it’s a
combination of distribution, processing, retail, indoor
and outdoor farming, restaurants and coffee shops, a food
market and community space. “There are companies coming together in our project that already do the things food
hubs do. We’re bringing those businesses into our project alongside other businesses that represent the entire
food chain,” she says.
While still in the planning stages, the 24-acre, local food
business park expects to break ground in early summer
2016. “We’re developing it in an area of West Louisville
that has five times the unemployment rate and less than
half the per capita income of other areas,” she says. “We
want to make this an economic driver for the neighborhood. Our hiring strategy is to hire the people who live
in this area. But, we’re looking at more than just jobs; we
want to support and develop wealth-creating opportunities in this neighborhood, allow the residents to start
small businesses and own the property itself. Those are
the kinds of ideas we’re working on,” says Heine.
Food hubs are a way to revitalize
communities in not just rural, but
urban downtowns as well.
Future development plans for the West Louisville FoodPort.
Photo by Alan Light