Northwest Connecticut Economic Development Corporation
333 Kennedy Drive, Torrington, CT 06790
860.567.2204 - email@example.com - www.nwctedc.com
Meeting Minutes - Board of Directors
Monday, March 21, 2016
@ NW CT Chamber of Commerce
The meeting was called to order by President/Chairman Doug Parker at 8:05 a.m.
Attendance: Jocelyn Ayer, Peter Bevivino, Bill Burgess, Frank Chiaramonte, Susan Clayton, Fran Delaney, Lou Helt, Brad Hoar, Mark Lyon, Laura McCarthy, Pat Mechare, Rich Meinert, Doug Parker, Leo Paul, JoAnn Ryan, Dan Sherr, Dwain Snow, Don Stein, Sharon Waagner, Amy Wynn
Guests: Kay Carroll, Joe Ercolano (CT-SBDC), Jane Williams (NCCC)
I. NWCTEDC Board & Executive Committee Nominations
- Ted Shafer, First Selectman of Burlington was nominated by Leo Paul, Jr. to serve a three year term (until December 2018) on the NWCTEDC Board of Directors. The motion was seconded by Sharon Waagner. It was passed unanimously.
- Ted Shafter and Leo Paul, Jr. were nominated to serve a one year term on the NWCTEDC Executive Committee by JoAnn Ryan. The motion was seconded by Bill Burgess. It was passed unanimously.
- Both motions were related to a motion at the January 25, 2016 NWCTEDC Annual Meeting to add two representatives from the NHCOG to the NWCTEDC Executive Committee.
II. NW CT Food Hub Feasibility Study Findings & Next Steps
Presented by Jocelyn Ayer (NHCOG), with additional comments by Kay Carroll & Bill Burgess (Sustainable Healthy Communities)
- There are over 350 food hubs in the U.S. in many different forms.
- The USDA defines a regional food hub as a business that actively manages the aggregation, distribution and/or marketing of source-identified products for the purpose of strengthening producer capacity and their access to markets.
- Less than 1% of food sales are to individual customers (e.g., farm stands, farmers' markets, CSA's)
- New Venture Advisors based in Chicago served as consultants for the study and were paid by an Agriculture Viability Grant from state.
- The grant was for $45,000 and was a matching grant requiring a 50% match which was provided with in-kind services from the NHCOG and Partners for Sustainable Healthy Communities.
- The study focused on regional supply and demand to determine the feasibility of creating a self-sustaining food hub for NW CT.
- The study revealed high demand (restaurants, private schools, grocery stores, public schools and other institutions), with less, but sufficient, supply.
- There were 28 regional growers interested in becoming suppliers and 21 interested buyers interested in more locally grown products.
- Sellers are seeking fair prices for their products and buyers are seeking low and competitive prices for those products.
- Food hubs can assist local producers with transportation, marketing & sales, promoting niche products, and certification & safety issues.
- Food hubs operate as the middle man in supplying the demand for local products.
- Operating a food hub can take different forms including for-profit, non-profit and co-ops.
- It was determined that a NW CT food hub would have minimum impact on existing farmers' markets and CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) participants.
- Factors for consideration include location, operational structure & management, storage & distribution, and marketing & sales.
- The next step is to seek a grant from the USDA and possibly the Community Foundation of NW CT to create a pilot program for the region.
- Long term goals: 30% increase in production, generate $2 million in revenue, $100,000 in yearly operating income, fully operational in 3-5 years
- Short term goal: break-even profitability within 3 years, revenue of $1.2 million
- Developing regional year-round growing facilities (greenhouses) will also be explored.
- Motion: A motion was made by JoAnn Ryan to endorse and support the concept of a regional food hub for NW CT and for NWCTEDC to support for grant requests to USDA and the state of CT to develop a pilot NW CT food hub. The motion was seconded by Lou Helt. It was approved unanimously with one abstention (due to a potential future conflict of interest).
III. Farmers' Forum
Kay Carroll described a recent Farmer's Forum held at Wamogo High School in January 2016.
- The event was a result of round table and informal discussions with over 20 NW CT farmers who identified things that would help them be more sustainable.
- The Forum was sponsored by The Farmer's Table, which, in 2015, became a program of Partners for Sustainable Healthy Communities, formerly known as Litchfield Hills Food Systems (organization that runs the Litchfield Hills Farm-Fresh Market).
- The first farmers table was held in 2011 in Warren, with subsequent annual dinners held in New Milford, Litchfield, Washington and Morris. The 2015 dinner, held at South Farms, generated $19,000 in excess funds to be applied toward those things farmers identified as helping them to be sustainable.
- Funding from the farmers' table dinners was used to cover the costs for the first Farmers' Table Forum at the end of January 2016 at Wamogo High School.
- There were 125 participants in the forum with a waiting list of 15 (due to space limitations).
- A series of eight workshops were provided and lunch was served by a local farm.
IV. NW CT Regional Infrastructure Plan
Jocelyn Ayer (NHCOG) presented the draft version of a new regional infrastructure plan of NW CT produced by the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG).
- Jocelyn presented the draft plan of a new regional infrastructure plan for NW CT developed by the Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG).
- The plan had also been previously been presented to the NWCTEDC Executive Committee were it was endorsed after the addition of the Torrington Downtown Municipal Development Plan.
- The draft plan includes all of the infrastructure projects previously identified in the NW CT Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) developed by the NW CT Economic Development Corporation (NWCTEDC).
- Motion: A motion was made by Don Stein and seconded by Leo Paul, Jr. to endorse the NW CT Regional Infrastructure Plan as presented. It was passed unanimously.
- The plan will continue to be refined by the NHCOG.
- Jocelyn Ayer (NHCOG) gave a brief overview of an economic forum held at South Farms in Morris in January. It was well-attended with over 100 participants and 10 different presentations representing various aspects of economic development.
- JoAnn Ryan (NW CT Chamber of Commerce) expressed concern about the potential closing of the UConn-Torrington campus due to state-wide budget cuts. She requested an endorsement to support UConn-Torrington as the only four year college in NW CT.
- Motion: Fran Delaney made a motion for the NWCTEDC to support keeping the UConn-Torrington campus open. The motion was seconded by Sharon Waagner and passed unanimously.
VI. Adjourn (9:20 a.m.)
NW CT Economic Development Corporation