The US is experiencing an exponentially expanding market for local food – an industry that has grown from $1B to nearly $40B in the last 20 years. In New Mexico, 97 percent of the $4B in annual food purchases are currently imported and local food sales constitute less than 1 percent of the value of food purchased. An increase in sales of local food to 15 percent of the overall industry would equal nearly $1B in new wealth for the state.
In order to capitalize on this economic development opportunity, Siete del Norte, CDC, is actively working under federal grants to establish a centralized aggregating, processing and distribution center for local produce in Espanola, New Mexico – the Northern New Mexico Food Hub (“NNMFH”). The project unites governmental agencies, for-profit businesses and non-profit enterprises in a regional collaboration designed to provide low-income families with the tools and resources to support, encourage and capitalize regional small farming entrepreneurial activities. In the last 18 months, Siete has leveraged a public-private partnership in furtherance of this effort, gained the direct support of more than 40 agencies and organizations across 10 northern New Mexico counties, attracted more than $700,000 in additional resources, provided more than $100,000 in small business loans and supported the creation of more than 20 jobs, including 10 small agricultural enterprises.