West Louisville neighborhoods to be rejuvenated by food hub
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Weeds growing between the concrete, broken chain linked fences, and crumbled bricks. It's the site of a former tobacco plant.
“For whatever reason they left, they left and took a whole lot of jobs from the city and predominately the west end,” said Johnny Blackmon, a resident who lives across the street from the former plant.
But things are about to change. The City of Louisville has granted Seed Capital Kentucky the option to develop a vacant lot where locally grown produce can be processed, store, and distributed. The 24 acre concrete desert in the middle of a food desert will become a place for local food businesses to come together.
“Getting access to healthy, locally grown and regionally grown food to people in Louisville is a critical part of this project,” said Caroline Heine, project director for Seed Capital Kentucky.
However, the idea of the food hub is two-fold, and plans to create more opportunities.
“This site is in the intersection of Louisville's most challenged neighborhoods: Russell, Portland and Shawnee. And the kinds of businesses that will be locating on this campus will bring jobs to folks in this community and in these neighborhoods,” said Heine.
“The hub is important to the West End because it brings jobs to the West End, and also brings the economy back to the West End that has gone to the East End,” said Blackmon.
The project is expected to be a 50 million dollar investment in the area, and bring in 150 new jobs.
Phase one will include nutrition classes, indoor farming, and even a compost site.
“It's a facility that takes organic waste of all kinds and breaks it down to component parts and actually produces methane gas from the breakdown of the organic waste and captures that methane gas back into the energy stream,” said Heine.
A food bank and retail shops are expected in phase two. Funding will come from new market tax credits and grant money.
The plan is to break ground in early 2015 with businesses opening in phases. Seed Capital Kentucky hopes the food hub will be fully operational by the end of 2016.
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