Grow Ohio Valley announced on Tuesday that they have been awarded $1.5million by the
Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to develop the Wheeling Food Hub.
This award is part of a recently announced nearly $47 million package supporting 52 projects in 181 coal-impacted counties through ARC’s POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative, which directs federal resources to economic diversification projects in Appalachian communities affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries.
The Wheeling Food Hub will be a commercial shared-kitchen facility offering everything young food businesses need – equipment, storage, distribution, and business guidance – to start,
scale-up and sustain production of quality local food products.
The project will repurpose an abandoned historic structure located in the heart of Wheeling and convert it into the center of a regional food distribution network. It will house critical shared
infrastructure to bolster WV farming, create jobs in food handling, processing, distribution, and support food entrepreneurs in the region.
“Our coal-impacted communities are a vital part of Appalachia’s 13 states and 423
counties—when our coal communities thrive, our entire region is uplifted,” said ARC Federal
Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “This latest round of POWER grant funding will not only help
struggling coal communities to once again compete in a global marketplace, but also expand
support for the creation of new jobs through growing Appalachia’s food economy.”
“We are extremely grateful to the ARC for this POWER award, and look forward to the Wheeling
Food Hub serving local food businesses in the Ohio Valley,” said Vincent DeGeorge, PhD, the
Wheeling Food Hub project lead. “So many local farmers and restaurants have contributed to
the planning stages of this project, and we are excited to launch this shared-use commercial
kitchen, processing & aggregation hub, and food business incubator.”
“Grow Ohio Valley is building a food system where farmers flourish and local and healthy food is
a way of life,” says Danny Swan, Executive Director of Grow Ohio Valley. “The Wheeling Food
Hub will address the diverse needs of regional food and farm entrepreneurs to start or expand
their businesses. Through this initiative local producers will have access to tools and resources
to turn their raw products into value-added goods. For example, tomatoes from the field into
salsa on grocery-store shelves.”
Support for this project has also been provided by Senators Capito and Manchin, the Benedum Foundation, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the Mills Group, WVU Brownfields Assistant Center, and more.