Cuyahoga County has received much attention in recent years for the work being done to address food insecurity in low-income urban communities. Think of programs like Produce Perks, which provides a financial incentive for SNAP recipients who shop at farmers markets, or the Summer Sprout Community Gardening Program, which provides free support and technical assistance to over 200 community gardens in the City of Cleveland. Ensuring that all residents in Cuyahoga County have access to fresh, affordable and nutritious food is one of the centerpieces of our work in Northeast Ohio and has been the driving force behind some of our most successful programs to date.
The issue of Food Access, however, is just one facet of the ever-evolving conversation around local food in our region. In 2014, OSU Extension, Cuyahoga County partnered with Bush Consulting Group, The City of Cleveland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition to develop a sustainable food cluster roadmap in Cuyahoga County with a core objective to increase regional jobs, revenue and sustainability by supporting local food and beverage businesses. Published last May, the roadmap identifies a number of market opportunities and provides specific strategies to boost regional strength and competitiveness across the food sector, including the establishment of a Northeast Ohio Food Trade Show. This event will connect regional food and beverage producers with potential customers. As OSU Extension’s Cuyahoga County office begins to broaden the scope of its community and economic development work, preliminary planning has begun to develop such an event.
Beginning with an assessment of current strengths and resource needs, OSU Extension has hired Muse Content Group, a local expert firm in market research, to develop a business model canvas that will inform our planning efforts and provide a blueprint as we move forward with this project. Following delivery of the canvas in late August, subsequent collaborative planning and development is slated to begin. Stay tuned!
(Submitted by Nico Boyd, Program Coordinator, Cuyahoga County & Western Reserve EERA)