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Thanks to a multi-year grant from Meyer Memorial Trust, Northeast Oregon Economic Development District (NEOEDD) outreach specialist Kristy Athens is conducting a food hub feasibility survey for Wallowa County.

“We have so much food production here in the county, and most of it is exported instead of consumed,” says Kristy. “I want to explore options that could increase access to locally grown food crops, and also add value to crops, which could boost the local economy.”

A "food hub" is a business or organization that can provide any number of services to local farmers and ranchers, including cooler or freezer storage, washing/cutting/packaging, and distribution to wholesale purchasers. Aggregation can support smaller producers, who alone cannot provide the volume of food needed by most wholesale customers, such as grocery stores, schools, and restaurants. Keeping more of the food that is grown in Wallowa County in the county increases access to fresh, nutritious produce and meat, and makes our economy more resilient--meaning we're less reliant on outside supplies. You can learn more about food hubs at http://www.wallacecenter.org/foodhubcollaboration/.

Athens seeks input from two specific groups. The first group is producers—the farmers and ranchers who grow food in the county—survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WCproducers
The second group is wholesale purchasers—the restaurants, grocery stores, institutions, manufacturers that purchase, process and/or sell agricultural products—survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/WCwholesalers

If it's appropriate, readers may take more than one survey, but they may take each only once. Share widely with your producer and buyer friends! If you have questions, contact Athens at kristyathens@neoedd.org or 541-426-3598.

24 Jul 2017, 1:03 pm

Want to support your neighborhood business? Be a small-town “angel” investor! Typical angel investors look for businesses that can grow quickly and then be sold. Small-town "angels" deal with smaller amounts of money and are interested in the long-term success of a business that will sustain a community, not abandon it."How to Be a Smart Local Investor" is a free, 3-hour seminar for people who want to support the entrepreneurs who are the foundation of our economy. The seminar provides a friendly and safe opportunity for participants to develop a personal framework for making investing decisions, and learn how to conduct due diligence and risk assessment. Participants will learn about different investment structures and have time to network.

An article in Forbes magazine notes that "there are between 25 million and 27 million small businesses in the U.S. that account for 60 to 80 percent of all U.S. jobs. And, a recent study by Paychex says that small businesses produce 13 times more patents than larger firms." These small businesses may not be glamorous, but they are the economic engine of our nation. And multi-million-dollar investors are not the only "angel" investors—investments of just hundreds of dollars can make a difference to a local business owner.

How can you help to keep this economic engine running smoothly? Find out at one of our upcoming seminars, taking place at 6 p.m.:

• Baker City: Wednesday, Jan. 18 at HatchLab Baker, 2019 Main St. POSTPONED
• La Grande: Thursday, Jan. 19 at Umpqua Bank, 1215 Adams Ave. POSTPONED
• Joseph: Monday, Jan. 23 at the Place, 303 S Lake St.

To register, call NEOEDD at 541-426-3598 or 800-645-9454, or email kristyathens@neoedd.org.

23 Jan 2017, 3:01 pm