Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation (F3) coalition
receives planning grant from EDA
The Fresno-Merced Future of Food Innovation (F3) coalition, led by the Central Valley Community Foundation (CVCF), was named by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) as a finalist in the $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The coalition will compete for up to $100 million of the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) American Rescue Plan funding to develop and scale the food and agriculture technology engineering industry in the Central Valley, support small farmers and food entrepreneurs, and improve the local food system.
Build Back Better
The challenge is assisting communities nationwide in their efforts to accelerate economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and build local economies that are resilient to future economic shocks. The Build Back Better Regional Challenge is the largest economic development initiative from the U.S. Department of Commerce in decades.
Key coalition partners include the California Department of Food and Agriculture, University of California, Merced; Fresno State; the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources; Fresno Metro Ministry; Cultiva La Salud; Fresno Area Hispanic Foundation; the City of Fresno; and the community colleges serving the five-county region.
F3's Areas of Focus
The strategy will be implemented through five integrated projects which focus on:
local food systems
pedestrian improvements connecting Downtown Fresno and surrounding neighborhoods
funding for small entrepreneurs
F3's Five Projects
iCreate: Innovation Center for Research and Entrepreneurship in Ag Food Technology & Engineering (iCREATE). Located in Downtown Fresno near the future high-speed rail station in a renovated 45,000 square-foot building, iCREATE will serve as a physical headquarters for F3.
Hecho en Fresno: La Cocina Fresno, a headquarters location in Downtown Fresno in close proximity to iCREATE and Saint Rest + Food to Share, a satellite facility in Southwest Fresno. Together these will create more than 40,000 sf of warehouse, commercial kitchen, education/training and more for cottage food entrepreneurs, food vendors and BIPOC farmers.
AgTEC: The Ag-TEC workforce initiative establishes a large, regional coordinating body comprised of industry associations and employers to advise on and help champion the development of the Agrifood Tech and Engineering workforce of the future.
Opportunity Walkway: A 1-mile, landscaped, lighted pedestrian trail connecting Southwest Fresno to downtown and the high-speed rail station.
SIEMBRA Food Fund: Provides small business lending for small food entrepreneurs, mobile food vendors, and restaurants.