Josie Sexton, The Coloradoan -- In Fort Collins, industry clusters exist for clean energy, water, bioscience, information technology and even culture. In U.S. cities such as San Francisco; Portland, Oregon; and Louisville, Kentucky, food clusters also exist. The tasks of a food cluster, and any industry cluster, can be nebulous until carried out. For Northern Colorado, it could mean acquiring land for small and emerging farmers; writing grants for existing food nonprofits; creating jobs through collaborative projects with school cafeterias or food banks; and helping to open that year-round community marketplace for farmers, butchers and other vendors.
Each year, the city of Fort Collins has a certain amount of money to allocate to its clusters; in early 2014 it awarded $107,000 to music, small business and startup clusters, among others. The NoCo Food Cluster received $30,000 of that funding, with the stipulation that it be matched by private donations.
“The city has played a very important role as a catalyst,” said Sam Houghteling, who sits on multiple committees within the Food Cluster. “But for the cluster to be a success, it needs to be a community- and business-driven initiative.”
Photo: Erin Hull/The Coloradoan