We are excited to announce that our client, Headwater Foods, is the recipient of a $75,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business Enterprise Grant (RBEG) grant.
This spring, we collaborated with our partners at the Wayne County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) to request funding for a comprehensive feasibility study related to the relocation of Headwater Foods’ existing food hub in Ontario, NY. If you aren’t familiar with the term, a food hub is a business that actively manage the aggregation, distribution, and marketing of source-identified food products from local producers to strengthen their ability to satisfy wholesale, retail, and institutional demand. The RBEG program funds a broad array of activities to facilitate the development of small and emerging rural businesses.
The first thing we did when we learned that our request was funded was celebrate with a snack.
WHO IS HEADWATER FOODS?
Headwater Foods, Inc. is a for-profit, diverse and integrated, soil-to-table, community food enterprise that creates a value-filled, year-round supply chain of local, top quality, sustainable foods for the Genesee Finger Lakes area of New York and the Northeast region of the United States. In the last five years, Headwater Foods has used both wholesale and direct sales strategies to grow 100% each year and establish itself as a leading supplier of local, sustainable foods and an organization working to positively transform this region’s food system.
The company seeks to promote local, sustainable agriculture; a regional food system; accessible and fair GOOD FOOD options for all people; and an enhancement and celebration of Western New York’s food history and culture.
And if you think the food looks good, check out the people who work for Headwater Foods. They are even better. Visionary thinkers. Savvy entrepreneurs. All around good people.
WE GO WAY BACK
In 2012, Highland Planning helped Headwater Foods with a site relocation process. The company moved from a 1,000 square foot barn in Webster, NY to a 9,000 square foot warehouse in Ontario, NY in May 2013. Last year, they expanded operations to include a wholesale food business line. Since that time, Headwater Foods has achieved a scale of operations that establishes a baseline economic viability for both its own organization and its network of farms, many of which are located in Wayne County. This year, Headwater Foods’ annual sales will surpass $1.5 million, and the company is positioned to expand, broaden its reach, diversify its business activities, product lines, and customer base; and work to establish a model food hub that has a significant, positive impact on the local food economy.
Over the next few months, we will be managing the RBEG grant adminstration. We’ve assembled a brilliant team of architects, economists, farmers, transportation suppliers, engineers, and customers to study, analyze and explore the opportunity for a new hub, one that uses on-site alternative energy resources and adds processing capacity to Headwater Foods’ operation.
We are confident that this study will help Headwater make smart choices — regarding investments in facilities and equipment, strategic partnerships with new farmers and institutional partners, and day-to-day operations.