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James Waddington Teaches KSI About Food Innovation

10/27/2014 - Kent County Director of Economic Development James Waddington recently visited Kent-Sussex Industries Inc. (KSI) to discuss the County’s emerging Food Innovation Districts. KSI’s leadership sought information regarding the initiative to better understand how individuals with disabilities could benefit from community integration and employment opportunities that may grow from the proposed program.

Kent County’s Food Innovation Districts initiative is a developing solution to maximizing use of Delaware’s significant agricultural resources. During his presentation, Mr. Waddington emphasized that more than $255 million of public funds has been invested, including landowner discounts, for preserving more than 60,000 acres out of 167,000 total agricultural acres in Kent County. The challenge facing Kent County from the economic development perspective is creating value-added agricultural opportunities for those properties that will result in greater impact and for the entire county’s economy, including job creation and business growth.

The objectives of the Food Innovation Districts are to expand the local food industry, attract and expand food manufacturing and processing, and encourage community gardening initiatives to increase vegetable production and food availability in Delaware. Kent County is looking at various incentives, financing and programs to promote food processing and manufacturing growth, as well as surveying available sites with suitable water and wastewater infrastructure to accommodate food processors. The identification and development of “food hubs” in various forms and the creation of a food industry incubator in Kent County are also part of the initiative.

As the Food Innovation Districts program emerges, KSI seeks to play a vital role in attracting food manufacturers to the region. KSI already offers packaging and processing services for food manufacturers, and provides affordable, supervised work crew solutions employing people with disabilities for several plants in Delaware. Additionally, the organization supports individual employees in companies to help them achieve long-term success for employers. All of these services could be of value to manufacturers relocating to the area. The Food Innovation Districts’ community gardening element could also provide meaningful experience for KSI participants. KSI’s leadership appreciated the opportunity to learn of an innovative program that has multiple potential benefits for Kent County’s citizens with disabilities.

For more information regarding Kent County’s Food Innovation Districts, contact James Waddington at 302-678-3057. For more information about KSI, call Alicia Hollis at 302/422-4014 ext. 3015, or visit their web page at www.ksiinc.org. Like us on Facebook, www.facbook.com/ksiworks.