WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) applauded over $112,000 in grant funding from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration to the Harvest University Center at San Juan College in Farmington, New Mexico.
The $112,850 grant funds the third year of the five-year Harvest University Center program at San Juan College. The Enterprise Center at San Juan College won a competitive EDA grant in June 2018 to create a local “food hub” to strengthen the local food system in San Juan County and support efforts to diversify the economy while increasing availability of locally-grown, nutritious food. The University Center will use the funds to continue building relationships between farmers and buyers during the growing season 2019, and is scheduled to be fully operational by 2020.
“San Juan College’s Harvest University Center exemplifies the promise of community-oriented economic development,” said Udall. “The Harvest University’s innovative local food hub will encourage sustainable economic diversification for the Four Corners area, create good jobs and connect local producers that grow nutritious food with families in their own community. Initiatives like the Harvest University food hub demonstrate how we can recover from this challenging time by using local resources and ingenuity to drive communities forward.”
“Creating a local food hub in the Four Corners was an important undertaking even before the coronavirus pandemic. As northwestern New Mexico continues to bear a disproportionate brunt from this disease, we must do all we can to improve public health and spur long-term economic recovery. Nutritious food from local farmers can help Four Corners families stay healthy and provide real opportunities to diversify the local economy,” said Heinrich. “I am proud to support San Juan College's innovative work to grow the local food economy in northwestern New Mexico. I will keep doing everything in my power to secure the resources we need for a public health response that is rooted in science and a strong economic recovery in every part of our state.”
“The Harvest University Center at San Juan College is a critical community initiative aimed at bolstering food access and creating new economic opportunities for the surrounding communities. I am glad that this federal funding will help improve the availability of healthy, locally-grown food while supporting local economies,” said Luján. “I will continue working to help our economy recover and expand and diversify opportunities for New Mexicans.”
The latest $112,850 grant is part of a competitive $564,000 grant that San Juan College won in June 2018 from EDA’s University Center Economic Development Program to establish the Harvest University Center.
The EDA's University Center Economic Development Program makes the resources of universities more widely available to the economic development community. Institutions of higher education have extensive resources, including specialized research, outreach, technology transfer, and commercialization capabilities, as well as recognized faculty expertise and sophisticated laboratories, that can positively benefit the local communities they serve. The EDA-supported University Center (UC) program is specifically designed to marshal the resources located within colleges and universities to support regional economic development strategies in regions of chronic and acute economic distress. The UCs, which EDA considers long-term partners in economic development, are required to devote the majority of their funding to respond to technical assistance requests originating from organizations located in the economically distressed portions of their service regions.