Nonprofit chosen to implement St. Paul food hub

  • Article by: KEVIN DUCHSCHERE
  • Star Tribune
  • February 13, 2014 - 8:24 PM

Twin Cities Local Initiatives Support Corp., a nonprofit specializing in community development, has been chosen to implement the $1 million idea that won the 2013 Forever St. Paul Challenge.

But the project may be carried out without the vacant East Side warehouse originally proposed as its home.

Urban Oasis, a proposal by public health entrepreneur Tracy Sides to create an all-purpose center for food production and distribution, beat out nearly 1,000 other ideas to revitalize St. Paul that were submitted last year to the Minnesota Idea Open and the St. Paul Foundation.

The prize money, which goes entirely to the project, came from a donation made to community foundations by the Minneapolis-St. Paul 2008 Host Committee, which ran the 2008 Republican National Convention.

Officials said Thursday that the grant will develop aspects of the Urban Oasis idea such as food processing, cooking classes and promotion of healthy foods.

But the century-old rail warehouse at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary that Sides had proposed for the food hub isn’t available, and renovating it would cost more than the amount of the grant anyway, said Naomi Pesky, spokeswoman for the Minnesota Philanthropy Partners.

Local Initiative’s selection to implement and manage the project was announced Thursday.

“They will … ensure that the $1 million grant goes toward community-driven programming that not only turns an idea into a tangible reality for St. Paul but also honors the Urban Oasis vision,” said Ann Mulholland, a St. Paul Foundation executive.


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