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September 27, 2016

Greater Portland earns federal food production designation

Neil Spillane (left) and Eric Holstein, co-founders of Fork Food Lab in Portland. The lab was among the successes cited in the Greater Portland's redesignation as one of the country's Manufacturing Communities for Food Production.

Greater Portland has been redesignated as one of the country's Manufacturing Communities for Food Production, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker announced on Tuesday.

The federal designation is part of the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership Initiative, which was established by President Obama in 2013 in to "accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing in communities nationwide by supporting the development of long-term economic development strategies," according to a release from the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

"This announcement is great news for Maine manufacturing and our thriving local food movement, and it will allow the Greater Portland area to build on the positive momentum we've seen with the current Manufacturing Communities designation," U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King in a joint statement. "We applaud this decision by the Department of Commerce, which will bolster a local industry that is already creating jobs and helping to grow the Maine economy. This is an exciting time for local food producers in our state."

To earn the redesignation, the region had to make progress in strengthening its ecosystem to support food manufacturing. Among the successes cited by the Greater Portland Council of Governments for the competitive designation were the Port of Portland, the newly opened Fork Food Lab and the combined $1.7 million in federal funds awarded to the region to cleanup and transform brownfield sites into industrial and commercial sites.

"Building a food and beverage cluster takes lots of collaboration. It requires a force that is full-time in nature that connects the dots for busy entrepreneurs," said Neil Spillane, co-founder and CEO of Fork Food Lab, in a statement. "The IMCP designation has allowed GPCOG to step up into this role, connecting us with all the right resources to grow our incubator with federal funding and a solid network."

Read more

Portland gets its first taste of the Fork Food Lab

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