A proposed rendering of what the West End Foodport could look like.
A rendering of the proposed West Louisville FoodPort

The proposed West Louisville FoodPort just got $1 million closer to reality.

The funding influx comes via a grant from Louisville’s James Graham Brown Foundation to Seed Capital KY, developer of the FoodPort, and will support design and buildout efforts.

The project has gotten an enormous amount of attention, locally and even internationally. When built, it should not only provide hundreds of jobs to Louisville’s impoverished West End, but also help bring far more fresh, healthy food to an area that is a “food desert,” meaning few healthy food options exist there. When Prince Charles visited Louisville recently, he met with Seed Capital and applauded the concept.

Caroline Heine, a director at Seed Capital, estimated Seed Capital would have to raise a total of $20 million for the project, and $8-to-$10 million would likely come from federal grants, private foundation grants, or individual donors. The new grant represents 10 percent of what they need from these channels.

“From that particular segment, it’s very significant,” she said.

Heine estimated Seed Capital had raised 25 percent of what it needs from such philanthropic sources, and that the Graham funding would open more doors.

“It shows strong support from our local foundations and will be a catalyst for us to use in other fundraising efforts,” she said.

Mason Rummel, president of the Graham Brown foundation, said the FoodPort is an innovative project targeting an area where the foundation also has a lot of interest.

“It fits with our economic development strategy to address west Louisville and strengthening neighborhoods,” she said in an email. “It’s mixed-use, multi-purpose approach to food access and workforce issues had great appeal to the foundation as examples of thoughtful planning and innovation.”

Rummel made the point that the foundation is an early funder of the FoodPort, and this should stimulate additional giving, “creating a broad base of community support in an area that needs it.”

Heine said a FoodPort groundbreaking should take place late fall. The project could be finished as soon as early 2017.

David Serchuk is a staff writer at Insider Louisville. He is a former editor at Forbes.com, and an ex-reporter at Forbes magazine. He's written for NPR, CNBC.com, New York, Pittsburgh, Louisville and other publications named for places. He enjoys writing about business, music and other things as well.


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