Grand Traverse Regional Market takes another step forward

Feasibility analysis gives green light to continue with food hub development.

The results of the Grand Traverse Regional Market (GTRM) Feasibility Study are in. Six months ago, with funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, the GTRM advisory board and Traverse Bay Economic Development Corporation hired Market Ventures Inc. (MVI), a national consultant firm that specializes in public markets, to complete a feasibility analysis for creating a “food hub” at Building 58 at the Grand Traverse Commons.

For those who are unfamiliar with “food hubs”, the USDA’s working definition is: “A centrally located facility with a business management structure facilitating the aggregation, storage, processing, distribution, and/or marketing of locally/regionally produced food products.”

The following development goals were used to guide the planning, development and operation of the GTRM: raise income for the region’s farmers and food producers; increase availability and access to local foods for area consumers; create a social space for the community; create jobs; and encourage education and knowledge sharing.

Based upon these criteria, the results of MVI’s feasibility analysis suggest a phased approach to development of the GTRM with Phase 1 components including: storage/aggregation/distribution; food production and processing; commercial test/incubator kitchen and/or auquaponics; retail-Indoor/outdoor farmers market shed; education and events (e.g. demonstration kitchen with adjustable height cooking surfaces); and office space for food-related businesses.

The results of the GTRM feasibility analysis are timely because of increasing state and federal interest in food hubs. For example, the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development just recently released details of a food system grant to develop value added agricultural processing and regional food systems by facilitating aggregation and distribution of Michigan-grown products.

With the long-term vision of the Minervini Group and collaboration from multiple partners across the region, the Grand Traverse Regional Market is one step closer to contributing to the states growing $92 billion agri-food system.

For more information on food hubs, see “Food hubs offer hope and help to agriculture producers on the Michigan State University Extension website.

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