The concept of the St. Louis Food Hub was born from the partnership of the local developer and St. Louis-based groups working on food desert issues, combined with support from local financiers and NMTC allocatees (including MBS Urban Initiatives) to help a neighborhood in desperate need of a fresh food outlet.
The Food Hub combines jobs and other economic development opportunities with fresh foods by cultivating, producing, processing, packaging and marketing locally grown foods on a brownfield site. With a 32,000 square foot market (Fields Foods), a 22,000 square foot food distribution, processing and wholesaling center (Farm to Family Foods) and 34,500 square feet of commercial space for other diverse tenants, the Food Hub vertically integrates operations. In addition, an online “Virtual Food Hub” provides a platform for communications between local farmers and their customers.
MBS Urban Initiatives funded a $5 million NMTC investment which was combined with investments from three other CDEs (including a companion investment by USB CDE) for a total of $19.3 million in NMTC allocation in the project. These investments leveraged $19.3 million total for the project. As a result of the NMTC investment, the operator is able to offer a range of locally-grown, organic, and healthy foods in a high-quality environment at affordable prices to the community.
The vertical integration of the project creates the economies of scale necessary for the Food Hub to provide high quality, naturally grown food at affordable prices for this low-income community. It also provides critically important distribution opportunities for farmers and has a positive environmental impact through the remediation and reuse of a blighted and neglected brownfield. In addition, the Food Hub targets low-income residents in its more than 125 permanent jobs and job training opportunities.
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