Prairie du Chien, WI, May 17, 2012 -- In the wake of this week’s observance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 150th Anniversary, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien visited Wisconsin and toured the newly opened Sharing Spaces Kitchen in Prairie du Chien to highlight USDA investments and the importance of local and regional food systems.
"The Obama Administration supports efforts to strengthen local and regional food systems as one strategy to promote job creation in rural communities," said O’Brien. "The Sharing Spaces Kitchen is a great example of how investments in local foods can help stimulate the Wisconsin economy, create jobs and support our country's diverse agricultural industry. These efforts are helping to create a stronger local economy."
In 2010, the Crawford County Opportunity Center received a $100,000 USDA Rural Development Rural Business Enterprise grant for the construction and operation of a new 6,000 sq. ft. kitchen incubator facility. Sharing Spaces Kitchen officially opened in March, 2012.
The new, shared‐use incubator kitchen facility includes two kitchen/production areas, a packing room, large dry storage area, walk‐in cooler and freezer, two loading docks, and a classroom. One of the goals of Sharing Spaces Kitchen is to help launch or scale-up local food businesses.
Sharing Spaces Kitchen is home to The Local Oven Bakery; provides space for local food processing; offers storage for area growers and buyers; and hosts classes and educational opportunities for entrepreneurs called “Opportunity Knocks”. An extension of the Opportunity Center, Sharing Spaces Kitchen also provides new and exciting integrated work opportunities for the people with disabilities we serve. The Opportunity Center has served adults with disabilities in Crawford County and other surrounding communities since 1965.
During the tour, O’Brien spoke with representatives of businesses and groups that utilize the incubator facility, and was served a lunch produced directly from the kitchens.
Following his visit, O’Brien will address attendees at the Tri-State Alliance Annual Summit – Creating Resilient Communities. This meeting will examine regional opportunities and priorities including local foods, infrastructure development, and economic growth
In 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed into law an act of Congress establishing the United States Department of Agriculture, calling it the “People’s Department”. Since then, USDA has helped support the tremendous growth and success of American agriculture, drive economic growth, conserve natural resources, and build stronger communities and a stronger nation. As we celebrate 150 years of accomplishments, USDA is looking to the future. In the years to come, we will help address the changing needs of agriculture and rural America. We will continue to help provide a safe, ample food supply for our nation and the world.
Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President is committed to using Federal resources more efficiently to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $165 billion in affordable loans and loan guarantees, including the Value-Added Producer Grant program. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD)