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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Aquaponics a Tool for Community Economic Development

The Family Fish Farms Network, Inc. (The Network) believes that, in addition to providing fresh, nutrition dense, healthy local food, Aquaponics can also provide the lynchpin for urban revitalization and community economic development as well.  It makes both environmental and economic  sense to grow food closer to where it will be consumed, that shipping it thousands of miles from farm to table.  The average head of lettuce for example travels 1,500 miles to get into your salad.

All Food is Local Food
Distributive production of local food is the answer to food security and job security.  Instead of building huge food factories (Corporate Farms & AgriBiz) it makes better sense to build small focused farms within and around the inner cities!  It is important to note that there exists a strong pent up demand for local fresh food and seafood.  A recent study by Karp Associ in one small midwest city showed a $300 million dollar pent up demand for food grown within the city (local food)

How to Fund Development
A network of urban aquaponic farms utilizing unproductive existing urban structures (even brownfield sites work  (Aquaponics does not use the local soil to grow) City administrations can leverage federal programs (Community Development Block Grants, New Market Tax Credits, Industrial Development Bonds, etc)  along with civil society and anchor private businesses to create a public private partnership that can provide the economic resources needed to fund the new enterprise.

Community and Worker Ownership
There are several business models that can further leverage economic participation by the community and the workforce.  One is the Cooperative, as this enables the company to extend the benefits of profitable operations to each and every member of the workforce and/or community.  The second and most interesting is the ESOP where specific provisions in the tax code and ERISA laws enable an ESOP to borrow money from commercial banks and then, pay not federal taxes until the funds are repaid and each employee fully vested.  Each worker an owner of the business!

Now that's Community Economic Development!  If you want to learn more leave a comment and I will respond!

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