Federal Funds made available to develop Valley's food and beverage industries

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The White House has positioned the Valley to help accelerate its food and beverage manufacturing.

The Central Valley Ag-Plus food and beverage manufacturing consortium led by Fresno State has become a federal funding priority. It was one of just 12 regions nationwide to be designated. The Valley's food and beverage manufacturing industry is spurred by the vast amounts of fresh produce and meat available. Forty communities applied but only 12 were selected for the federal designation.

Fresno State headed a group which includes agencies from Chico to Bakersfield. "It puts us into a preferential position for grants that would affect or provide assistance to the food and beverage manufacturing which is our bread and butter," said Mike Dozier, Economic Development Executive Director.

Dozier says the group's regional presentation helped it earn the designation. "That's really the whole purpose here is for everyone of these communities to have really put forward a plan that allows the Federal government funding to know that the money is going to be well-spent and focused on particular goals," said Penny Pritzker, Secretary of Commerce.

Federal funds will also help create jobs in some areas. So the designation doesn't just aid those who provide for the food manufacturers. "Community colleges high schools , universities that deal with food and beverage manufacturing. It could include workforce investment boards, the EDCs," said Dozier.

Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says the designation helps the Valley build on efforts such as the Fresno Food Expo.

Of the 12 regions selected, the Ag-Plus Group led by Fresno State is the only one dealing with food manufacturing.
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