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Knowledge and Network development
Connect food, beverage and agricultural supply chain actors. Host workshops and a regional conference.
Mentor new businesses, provide skill development opportunities, provide grant support, attract new businesses to the region.
Conduct market research, increase local and regional market channel opportunities, coordinate and implement market initiatives, promote the region.
How can the NCFC help my business?
Businesses in emerging and rapidly growing sectors of the economy may struggle the most to find relevant networks and like-minded businesses and organizations who are trying to understand the market dynamics and social issues they face. The Food Cluster is a convener of those like-minded institutions in the food system domain. Leveraging the “unified voice” of the industry cluster, engaged businesses should expect to see a return on their investment from the Food Cluster. This return on investment (ROI) will look different for different businesses: for some it may be new business leads and market access points, for others, industry cooperators in programs and projects and for others, connecting with those with similar missions to influence policy change.
Taking the collaborative approach to food system innovation and investment is the new paradigm for businesses, municipalities, and communities. The Food Cluster has only begun to scratch the surface of a new collaborative approach in Northern Colorado; your support, and most importantly your engagement in the Food Cluster, will ultimately lead to the organization’s success. How your business realizes benefits or a more tangible ROI from being engaged with the Food Cluster is really up to you.
How can the NCFC help my organization?
Whether your organization is a loose coalition of likeminded community members with a common goal, a small 501(c)(3) non-profit, or a department of a much larger (possibly global) organization, it is likely you also see value in leveraging the voice and resources of a larger set of organizations with common values. This voice may mean new energy around a public program investment to encourage new marketing infrastructure or market opportunities or research dollars flowing your way from a successful grant writing partnership with other Food Cluster partners. This may mean more publicity for your group that leads to more donations or volunteers from the community, or new engagement and interest from the community in support of your group’s mission.
Again, the collaborative process is key in this new innovation arena, and The Food Cluster wants your organization to be successful and realize ROI however you define it.
How does the Food Cluster select policies to work on?
The Food Cluster, through the policy subcommittee, has created a framework to identify impactful policies that align with the mission of the Cluster. The framework is divided into sectors of the food system that include production, consumption, distribution, and food waste/recycling. The framework will be utilized to select policies to focus on that are based on community needs, the potential solution identified, and the expected outcome of the policy.
How can the NCFC help my community?
By taking an economic development approach to food system innovation, the Food Cluster may gain some increased visibility and attention in key circles of the community. But, with a membership base and governance structure that stretches beyond industry stakeholders, this Food Cluster can frame discussions to support more economically viable, socially just, and environmentally sustainable businesses and organizations, leading to a healthier, more resilient community.
What community initiatives has the Food Cluster supported?
Urban Agriculture Regulatory Changes– City Staff influenced and worked with citizens to research and draft new ordinances that allowed for urban agriculture in every zone district in the city; allowed for chickens, ducks, goats and more to be raised for increased self-sufficiency; allowed farmers markets in more zone districts; and supported year-round growing efforts by removing hoop houses from building regulations.
Farm Incubator – The City of Fort Collins Natural Areas Department, with assistance community groups including members of the NoCo Food Cluster, is in the early stages of developing a program to use a small portion of compatible lands to convert back to local food production. This will likely include a strategic partnership with the local food bank, a young farmer mentorship program to develop young farmers, and a demonstration opportunity to converge many conservation and agricultural management goals into one location.
Community Marketplace – The City of Fort Collins Economic Health Office continues to work with multiple City departments and community stakeholders (including members of the NoCo Food Cluster) to establish a year round marketplace for local farmers and value added producers.
Legislative Advocacy – Cluster representatives met with State Representatives Fischer and Ginal to discuss legislative proposals in 2014, and recommendations from the Cluster lead to the formal City support (through the Legislative Review Committee) of three State-level bills.
Climate Change Task Force – Cluster members solicited community feedback and developed recommendations on behalf of the Mayor of Fort Collins who sits on President Obama’s Climate Change Task Force
How does the Food Cluster Connect with the rest of the state?
The Cluster was added to the state-wide food coalition directory and network operating under the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council. Steering Committee members also attended the Summit for Colorado Food System Coalitions in February 2014 to network and learn from other coalitions around the state. More information is posted here: http://www.cofoodsystemscouncil.org/
To our grant funders and Sponsors