News release from the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership:
Regional Food Network Phase 1 Study Released
(April 5, 2016) – The Northeast Indiana Regional Food Network, led by Wells County Economic Development, released the Northeast Indiana Food Network’s Phase 1 Report recently completed by Manheim Solutions, Inc., of Elgin, Ill.
Wells County Economic Development contracted with Manheim Solutions to conduct a multi-phase study to identify the gaps in the food chain and methods to fill those gaps to improve the entire food network within Northeast Indiana’s 11 counties.
Phase I of the report creates a regional foodshed profile by gathering and analyzing information necessary to evaluate the 11-county region’s economy, geography and suitability for potential development of the food and agriculture sectors.
“Capitalizing on the Regional Food Network will add to the transformation underway in the Northeast Indiana’s economy. By supporting locally grown food and innovative entrepreneurial activity from these unique businesses, Northeast Indiana continues to invest in the quality and power of place in our region,” said John Sampson, president and CEO of The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. “We all look forward to enjoying even more locally produced foods and the benefits of building community networks around the business of food.”
Current and planned regional food network projects include regional food hubs, incubators, farm-to-fork initiatives, farmers markets, food festivals, cooking education, urban agricultural production, community kitchens and neighborhood spaces.
Phase II of the report, which will begin immediately, contains three main tasks:
- Bring together farmers, food buyers and related stakeholders to review key findings and provide input on the priority of possible projects.
- With the input from regional stakeholders, food network leaders will develop a short list of action steps.
- The Manheim Solutions team will collaborate with regional stakeholders to determine the economic feasibility of identified priority strategies, and prepare a draft of the business plan for implantation.
“Bringing the key food stakeholders together will provide further understanding as we continue to develop the platform behind the Food Innovation Center in Bluffton,” said Chad Kline, director of the Wells County Economic Development. “As we move forward through the additional phases of this study, collaboration among the region is important to the success in implementing these strategies.”
In 2014, the Northeast Indiana Regional Food Network received $15,000 in initial funding from the Regional Opportunities Council, the investor board of the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. The funding was granted to support the Regional Partnership’s Vision 2020 Initiative and the entrepreneurial pillar. The study was also funded through a $43,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“For Northeast Indiana, food products, agriculture and processing are a foundation for innovation and entrepreneurship in our economy. The Regional Food Network Phase 1 Report shows there that there’s an opportunity for growth,” said Ryne Krock, president of the LaGrange Economic Development Corporation, a key partner in the study.
Want to read Northeast Indiana’s Regional Food Network Phase 1 report? www.neindiana.com/vision/resources/regional-reports.or visit
About the Wells County Economic Development Corporation
Located in the heart of Bluffton, the Wells County Economic Development is committed to attracting and retaining the best businesses and workers, and dedicated to coordinating community-wide efforts to facilitate economic growth. For more information, visit www.wellsedc.com.
About the LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation
The LaGrange County Economic Development Corporation is a nonprofit organization that serves as the central point of contact for economic development efforts in LaGrange County. Our mission is to improve the quality of life for the citizens of LaGrange County through the enhancement of employment opportunities resulting from the responsible growth and retention of business and industry. For more information, visit www.lagrangecountyedc.com.
About the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership
The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership was formed in 2006 to help build a globally competitive economy in Northeast Indiana. It is a public-private partnership focused on generating business leads and building regional capacity through product development and effective regional collaboration. In 2010, the Partnership launched Vision 2020 to bring the region together around five key areas for economic growth: 21st Century Talent, Competitive Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure and Quality of Life. Through its combined efforts in business development and capacity building, the Partnership supports its 11 member counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties. For more information, visit www.neindiana.com.