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Springfield to receive EPA Technical Assistance for Downtown Food Space

Part of Local Foods, Local Places program

05/14/2020
Contact Information: 
Francisco Arcaute (arcaute.francisco@epa.gov)
312-886-7613, 312-898-2042 cell

For Immediate Release No. 20-OPA-047

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (May 14, 2020)–Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), along with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Marketing Service, announced technical assistance for the City of Springfield, Ill., to develop a food space downtown. This would boost economic opportunities for local entrepreneurs while promoting clean air, safe water, open space and healthy food choices.

“The Trump Administration is committed to helping communities develop and strengthen their local food economy by investing in opportunity zones in often under privileged communities, some of which have been hard hit by the coronavirus outbreak,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Support for local food initiatives can improve access to fresh foods, support farmers, grow new businesses, keep Americans healthy and improve the environment.”

“EPA is eager to help Springfield build on the success of its downtown farmers market and locally-sourced food movement to develop local entrepreneurial food resources such as a grocery store and a commercial kitchen,” said EPA Regional Administrator Kurt Thiede. “New food venues would help revitalize the downtown neighborhood, create new jobs and potentially provide opportunities for job-training.”

“This is an unprecedented time that has challenged all aspects of our lives. Due to the economic hardship and disruption of the nation’s food supply, this grant is coming at a critical time. The City of Springfield is extremely grateful to the EPA for recognizing the efforts of our local steering committee. Their work to better connect and grow our current food industry, while offering alternative paths for new business ventures is crucial,” stated Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder. “As business owners look for new ways to grow their service model and enhance their offerings, this technical assistance grant will provide the guidance needed to continue to move our community forward while strengthening the heart of our city.”

The city requested technical assistance to create a local food space in its central business district. Local organizations have identified the need for a food space that would include a commercial kitchen, year-round farmers market, job training, or local grocery.

The assistance is provided through the Local Foods, Local Places program, a federal initiative that helps communities reinvest in existing neighborhoods and improve quality of life through the sustainable development of their local food economy. This effort will build upon the work of existing local leadership in coordinating local food production, commercial kitchen availability, farmers markets, nutrition, food entrepreneurship, and downtown redevelopment.

Springfield has an Opportunity Zone like most of the 16 communities nationwide selected for this program in support President Trump’s Executive Order 13853. 

Springfield will get access to a team of federal, state, and regional agricultural, environmental, public health, architectural and economic development experts to help develop an action plan, set goals and identify local assets that can support the local food economy and contribute to downtown and neighborhood revitalization.

EPA will be flexible on the timing of next steps for the project, as necessary, considering that many communities are still dealing with issues related to COVID-19.

For more information on Local Food, Local Places: http://www.epa.gov/smartgrowth/local-foods-local-places

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