Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Grant
Greater Portland Redesignated by the U.S. Department of Commerce as a Manufacturing Community for Food Production
The Greater Portland Region has received one of twelve U.S. Department of Commerce designations as an “Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership” region. The GPCOG proposal was built around the proposed Greater Portland Sustainable Food Production Center. The region will receive coordinated support for their strategies from eleven federal agencies, with a $1.3 billion pool available in federal economic development assistance.
“The program is a potential game changer for the region,” said Neal Allen, GPCOG Executive Director. The GPCOG plan, developed through a consortium of food and agriculture interests, together with Caroline Paras of GPCOG and Mark Ouellette of Mobilize Maine, addresses the needs of the Maine food processing industry that stand in the way of its growth, like the lack of worker training and insufficient infrastructure.
“The [designation] is a big deal because it focuses on all of the infrastructure, including manufacturing, that supports farmers in Maine,” said Mark Hews of the Maine Society of Sustainable Agriculture, a partner on the application.
Study Overview and Goals
The goal of this study was to connect farmers and fishermen in Cumberland County with the region’s institutional buyers, in order to provide a more stable, year-round demand for local foods. As part of the study, we surveyed a number of institutional buyers to better understand the potential for these institutions to purchase more locally sourced foods. Additionally, we sought to quantify the potential market these institutions represent.
An online survey was sent to food managers, or employees tasked with food purchasing, at over 300 institutions, including hospitals, K-12 schools, colleges/universities, private corporations, churches, summer camps, jails/correctional facilities, nursing homes, and child care facilities. In total, we received 52 responses for a response rate of roughly 17%.