SMIF receives a $70,000 grant for new initiative

Published 9:51 am Friday, February 3, 2017

Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation recently received a $70,000 grant from Minnesota’s Department of Agriculture for a Feast! Smart Start initiative.

The grant will provide technical assistance to local food and beverage makers, producers and growers. SMIF, in partnership with the FEAST Local Foods Network, will use these funds to offer trainings and conferences for southern Minnesota food businesses to increase their capacity and growth potential.

“Strong food economies are dependent on successful entrepreneurs,” said SMIF Vice President of Economic Development Pam Bishop. “These individuals start and expand small scale farms, production and processing facilities, distribution hubs and food transportation systems. Whether innovative farmers, rural brewers and winemakers, small town grocers, local cafe or restaurants owners, caterers or food service providers, we rely on successful food entrepreneurs for healthy rural economies.”

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The announcement comes just after SMIF and the FEAST Local Foods Network launched the Grow a Farmer fund, which provides lower-interest loans to small-scale, sustainable farmers. “The Feast! Smart Start Initiative along with the Grow a Farmer fund are two new ways the FEAST Network is strengthening our local food ecosystem in southern Minnesota,” Bishop said.

SMIF will partner with FEAST Local Foods Network partner Renewing the Countryside to host a conference for food businesses in March. In addition, a select number of businesses will undergo executive training to strengthen financial, marketing and management skills.

The businesses will go on to participate in six months of businesses coaching. Preference will be given to food businesses who have participated in the annual Feast! Local Foods Marketplace, received MDA Value-Added Producer grants or other MDA grants, and those applying for and receiving Grow a Farmer funds.

For more information on the Feast! Smart Start initiative, contact Bishop at or 507-455-3215.