As reported in MaineBiz, the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG) announced that the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation at Saint Joseph’s College in Standish will take on the role of steward and convener of the Portland Region Food Foundry. The Institute will provide resources for the staffing, organizing, and hosting of meetings of food producers, manufacturers and allied businesses and organizations to guide the economic development of the region’s food and beverage industry. The joint announcement was made by Kristina Egan, Executive Director of GPCOG and Dr. James Dlugos, President of Saint Joseph’s College to more than one hundred GPCOG members assembled at the Stone Barn at Sebago Lake for GPCOG’s annual meeting on May 30, 2018.
President Dlugos said, “The Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation will provide an innovation hub and, in partnership with GPCOG, will gather economic and community leaders in the Sebago Lakes Region and Greater Portland region to advance a vision of strengthening our regional economy through the local food economy. We will continuously review economic development goals and establish a set of metrics to monitor the successful growth of the local food and beverage industry.”
Kristina Egan said, “In 2014, GPCOG succeeded in having Greater Portland designated as one of a small number of communities nationwide identified by the U.S. Economic Development Administration as an IMCP Manufacturing Community. For the last three years, we have developed strategies for investments in areas such as workforce training, infrastructure development, supply chain support, and capital access. As we cultivated strategic partners for the implementation of these plans, the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation joined us to play a significant role in providing critical infrastructure and workforce development programs for food entrepreneurs and workers in southern Maine’s food economy.”
U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree said, “Last year, the United States Department of Commerce awarded Saint Joseph’s College a $1,987,512 investment into a Public Works Construction Project here on campus so that the College could build the infrastructure for the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation. By developing a formal agreement to serve as an innovative host to the food and beverage industry, the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation will better support the creation of jobs in food manufacturing and sustainable agriculture. By helping local food producers and manufacturers scale up their operations and bring value-added products to a wider marketplace, this implementation phase of the Portland Region Food Foundry will help us gain traction in meeting our food security goals.”
Executive Director of the Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Peter Nielsen said, “The Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation was designed to help achieve the goals established by GPCOG’s economic development strategy for the local food economy. We all need to get to the point where we have year-round production of fresh local food in Maine and a well-trained generation of food entrepreneurs to build the industry that will support it. This requires dialogue across the industry and across the state. By bringing the Portland Region Food Foundry and the Institute together in partnership, we are now well-positioned to provide a substantive leadership role in growing Maine’s food economy.”
The Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation is preparing to send out bids early this summer for construction of a hydroponic greenhouse, a food venture center, and a livestock barn. In 2016 the College completed the renovation of the Stone Barn at Sebago Lake, which serves as the center of a 28-acre area of campus on which the new infrastructure will be built.
The Institute for Local Food Systems Innovation is an innovation hub for sustainable agriculture & economic development supporting Maine’s food & beverage industry. ILFSI seeks to develop small and midsize food producers and manufacturers through the operation of food enterprises, in collaboration with Saint Joseph’s College, the federal government, regional planners, corporate partners, and individuals. A hydroponic greenhouse, 3,400 square foot community kitchen, and livestock barn have been designed to offer agricultural and food industry programming designed to meet the needs of workers and lifelong learners interested in building skills and competencies. Current ILFSI funders are:
- $1.99 million Public Works Construction Project award from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration to provide for the institute’s infrastructure.
- $500,000 gift from the Hannaford Charitable Foundation.
- Additional donations from several private foundations and individuals that collectively match the nearly $2 million in EDA funding.
Find out more at: www.eatgoodlocalfood.org
The Greater Portland Council of Governments serves 26 member municipalities and the County of Cumberland by helping our communities achieve things together that they cannot do by themselves. From transportation and land use planning to public health, economic development and clean energy, our team works with elected and professional leaders to lead our region toward sustainable prosperity. Find out more at www.gpcog.org