Providence Business Loan Fund awards $850,000 for Food & Agriculture Hub

Providence Business Loan Fund Awards $850,000 for Food & Agriculture Hub

Project loan aligns with the City’s urban food economic development strategy

Providence, RI - Mayor Jorge O. Elorza Wednesday announced that the Providence Business Loan Fund (PBLF) has closed an $850,000 acquisition loan to Farm Fresh RI for the purchasing of a 3.2-acre site at 498 Kinsley Avenue. The loan is helping realize a food and agriculture campus and aligns with Mayor Elorza’s urban food economic development strategy that leverages resources to expand not only restaurants, but promote light food manufacturing, distribution, startups, food technology, and urban production in the city.

“This loan is an exciting milestone in my administration's restructuring of the former Providence Economic Development Program,” said Mayor Elorza. “Our support for Farm Fresh RI is part of our urban food strategy where the proceeds will transform a former industrial site, now vacant, to a new vibrant space bringing together food and community.”    

The Farm Fresh business model and ethos is built on locally-sourced food.  The Kinsley site will accommodate Farm Fresh’s expansion as the demand for locally-sourced food continues to grow. Plans for the site call for a new sustainable structure to replace the former industrial fabrication facility that was destroyed by a fire in 2015. The campus will complement the art, craft, and design businesses concentrated in the Valley neighborhood of Providence.

“Early on support of this magnitude from the City of Providence represents a strong endorsement of the Farm Fresh RI Hub and its ability to strengthen our local and regional food system,” declared Sheri Griffin, Farm Fresh RI Co-Director.

In addition to the PBLF, City resources encompassed in the food and economic development strategy include Property Tax Stabilization agreements, Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, investment from the Providence Redevelopment Agency, and support from the Partnership for Greater Providence, an economic development 501c3 formed by the City and supported by Commerce Rhode Island through a food cluster grant. Further, the City worked closely with Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation to secure a $600,000 U.S. Economic Development Agency grant for the American Tourister site.  This brownfield site in Wanskuck is targeted as a food industrial park to bring light manufacturing back to Providence.

“Consumers continue to demand healthier, sustainably produced and locally sourced food giving Providence an economic opportunity that plays to its strengths,” said Economic Development Director Mark Huang. “The PBLF loan to Farm Fresh is an example of the City seizing an opportunity to strategically create employment for residents, provide healthier food for communities, stimulate the local economy, and reduce its environmental footprint.”  
(release from City of Providence)