Consumer demand is changing the U.S. food industry and local economies can take advantage of consumer demandpollinating for less processed fresh and local foods. A National Good Food Network webinar last week highlighted some ways to grow the local economy.

Rather than simply attracting another region’s businesses and retaining the ones you have, Michael Shuman, author of The Local Economy Solution, suggests that local governments and nonprofits should:

(1) Maximize local ownership. (2) Maximize local self-reliance. (3) Spread models of Triple Bottom Line  success.(4) Create an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

the PsHe noted that the first instinct of many pollinators (i.e. those seeking to grow local food businesses) is to turn to outside funders. A better approach is to work with local businesses and investors to build the local economy. Main Street Genome is an example of how pollinators can help to level the playing field for local business development by providing expert advice. Another is the Union Kitchen in Washington, D.C. (mentioned here previously) that helps to create food businesses by handling all the tough regulatory and infrastucture issues of food business development.

Local Money matters

A final point that Shuman makes is that a local bank is three times more likely to reinvest in the local community than a national bank. That is one way to ‘plug the leaks’ and boost the local economy.

Linda Best, founding member of FarmWorks in Nova Scotia, was the other speaker on the webinar. She talked about how the Canada province had been losing food production for 50 years, but was making a comeback with FarmWorks, whose mission is to “Promote, and provide, strategic and responsible community investment in food production and distribution in order to help increase access to a sustainable local food supply for all Nova Scotians.” In brief, FarmWorks links local investors with emerging companies.

We all know that in nature pollinators do magical work to turn flowers into food. Pollinating local economies can make the farm-to-table connections to grow jobs and prosperity.