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Iron Roots Urban Farm & Lake-to-River Food Hub Kitchen Incubator

From Rust to Green: A Scalable Transformation Strategy to Create & Sustain Food Entrepreneurs and Ameliorate Food Insecurity


Project Summary/Abstract Project Title: The Youngstown Rust to Green (R2G) Initiative Applicant Name: Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) Address: 201 E. Commerce Street, Suite 140, Youngstown, OH 44503 Contact Numbers: Phone: (330) 480-0423, Fax: (330) 259-7575 Web:; Facebook:  Project Abstract: Food security is a serious issue in Youngstown, Ohio. The latest USDA data shows that nearly 70% of the census tracts in Youngstown are food deserts, leaving a staggering 62% of the population food insecure (nearly 42,000 people). Youngstown, located in the Rust Belt, was once an important industrial hub and center of steel production. The city’s failure to diversify meant the collapse of the steel industry devastated the region, and by the mid-1980s, the city had lost 40,000 jobs, 400 businesses, and $414 million per year in personal income. A 2011 Brookings report ranks Youngstown with the highest concentrated poverty rate (49.7%) among primary cities in the largest metropolitan areas. Despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges, Youngstown is redefining itself and emerging as a model green city, and Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC) is on the frontline of Youngstown rising. In partnership with Common Wealth, Inc. (CWI), YNDC proposes a convergence strategy building upon Youngstown assets both physical (vacant/abandoned land) and human (unemployed/underemployed poor residents) to develop a placed-based systems approach and scalable transformation strategy to create and sustain food entrepreneurs and ameliorate food insecurity. More specifically, YNDC will build upon the velocity started with their Iron Roots Urban Farm to facilitate market gardener training (jobs and businesses); and community outreach and education (building skills of local residents and gardeners to grow, preserve, prepare and consume healthy food and healthy meals). This gathering momentum will be magnified by the development of the CWI Kitchen Incubator. The Kitchen Incubator will scale this transformation through training, development, and support for food entrepreneurs. More specifically, the kitchen incubator will provide the necessary infrastructure to support the resulting food entrepreneurs and develop value added product and increased production. Further, the initiative will provide advanced training, business planning, and business development assistance, including development of distribution points (e.g., corner stores (urban oasis food kiosks), local schools, farmers markets, local restaurants, and Community Supported Agriculture programs) for locally produced products. Taken together these elements are a strong step forward towards a comprehensive food-based economic redevelopment strategy. This strategic neighborhood transformation will hire, train, and create entrepreneurship opportunities (45 total) for low-income community residents. In addition to job creation, this initiative will build and expand healthy food infrastructure, expand local food offerings in corner stores and other retail outlets that will make fresh, affordable, nutritious food available to residents in food deserts throughout the City, providing food security. This replicable and sustainable model will serve as the catalyst for the green redevelopment of Youngstown. The impact will create an active city of choice where people will find a sense of community and a place where the values of entrepreneurship and healthy food access exist to transform not only a city, but a region.

Community & Economic Development Proposal  

Scalable transformation strategy to create and sustain food entrepreneurs and ameliorate food insecurity.

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