Strategy to Focus on Regional Food Industries

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Regional officials will provide details of the effort Wednesday morning at Joseph Decuis Farm in Columbia City. Regional officials will provide details of the effort Wednesday morning at Joseph Decuis Farm in Columbia City.
COLUMBIA CITY -

A federal grant will help launch a study that could provide a clearer picture of opportunities connected to the food production and processing sectors in northeast Indiana. Funding for Wells County Revitalization Inc. will support creation of a Northeast Indiana Regional Foodshed Development Strategy. It will involve collaboration among additional organizations and counties. Officials will detail the next steps of the process Wednesday in Columbia City.

The effort will include participation from the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, Wells County Economic Development, LaGrange County Economic Development Corp.

Krock says, among other information, the strategy will help to identify training and employment gaps, asset mapping and regional strengths within food, agriculture and related industries. He says information received from the effort could boost northern Indiana's increasing reputation as a hub for food processing. Krock believes strengthening the food hub network in the region will help it become a bigger player in the Midwest and nationally.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $43,000 through its Rural Business Development Grant program for the effort. It will create a detailed profile for northeast Indiana using survey responses, community input and feedback from key players in the industry.

Krock tells Inside INdiana Business a major key to this effort is stakeholder buy-in. He says this is not the kind of study results that will "sit on the shelf and collect dust," but rather, leaders within the region are "ready to go" with the direction a strategy could provide.

Ryne Krock, chief executive officer of LaGrange County Economic Development Corp., says the strategy will provide a "clear path" for an ever-growing economic focus in the region.
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