It’s official, greater Portland is now a food hub

fork

Portland put itself on the map for its award winning dining scene — now it’s being recognized for more than what chefs are plating up at the corner bistro.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker on Tuesday announced that Greater Portland has been redesignated as one of the nation’s 24 manufacturing communities. What in it for the Port City?

“It will result in more money for the food hubs in this area and we expect many more places to benefit in the coming years,” said Kristina Egan, executive director of the Greater Portland Council of Governments, who we ran into at the opening of Fork Food Lab Tuesday night. The hot kitchen incubator is a recipient of $100,000 in federal funds and a food economy success story.

The federal designation is part of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Initiative, which was crafted by the Obama Administration in 2013 to “accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in communities nationwide by supporting the development of long-term economic development strategies,” according to a press release.

white cap

Owners of White Cap Coffee, sample their cold brew at Fork Food Lab. 

So far GPCOG and its partners have received $45 million in state, federal, and private funds over the last year to help new concepts like Fork Food Lab open. The region’s re-designation as a leading food manufacturing community “will help us get more grants for this region and create jobs,” said Egan.

 Since the initial IMCP designation was announced in 2014, GPCOG and its IMCP partners have applied for more than $120 million in state, federal, and private funds, which, in turn, was matched by $108 million.

 “This designation creates a sense of unity that says food is economic development. Ten years ago an investment in food was an investment in a dying industry,” she said. said Caroline Paras, economic and community planner for GPCOG. “For the first time in 30 years manufacturing is on the rise in Cumberland County.”

 

 

Kathleen Pierce

About Kathleen Pierce

A lifelong journalist with a deep curiosity for what's next. Interested in food, culture, trends and the thrill of a good scoop. BDN features reporter based in Portland since 2013.