About the Author
Mike Kanin is the Publisher of the Austin Monitor. As such, he doesn't report on much--aside from the workings of the Monitor--any more. In his previous life as a freelance journalist, Kanin has written for the Washington City Paper, the Washington Post's Express, the Boston Herald, Boston's Weekly Dig, the Austin Chronicle, and the Texas Observer.
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Economist’s report says Austin needs to develop its food sector
A report from TXP economist Jon Hockenyos suggests that, though the City of
In a presentation delivered Thursday to Council members, Hockenyos said that he believes that his effort is just the start. “I would be surprised if there are not more recommendations over and above what we have offered as the initial round,” he said.
Indeed, the report seems to point in that direction. “The sum of the food sector is greater than the parts, and the parts are interconnected,” Hockenyos writes. “However, the ties could be stronger; if local farmers and food artisans are able to produce and sell more to
Council Member Laura Morrison underscored what appeared to be the key take-home message of Hockenyos’ report. “Did I hear you say that it is on the same level as our creative (sector)?” Morrison asked.
“Commensurate,” Hockenyos replied.
“That’s pretty incredible,” Morrison summed.
Hockenyos’ study was the result of a Council resolution passed in August. It called on City Manager Marc Ott to develop a detailed report about urban agriculture and local food systems in
And detailed it is. Hockenyos looks at local food both in a national and regional context, examines economic activity around food in the
Among these is the notion that “‘local food’ is a powerful brand,” and that “strong demand creates substantial room for growth and economic development in the food sector.” Morrison suggested a that some of this power could be harnessed to both improve access to food and provide employment in traditionally underserved areas such as Dove Springs using mobile food vendors.
Hockenyos told Morrison that he hadn’t seen a program that had done exactly that. However, he added that there wasn’t anything that he could think of that would be a “deal killer” with regard to Morrison’s idea. The head of
Hockenyos’ recommendations also include a call for a feasibility study about “permanent food markets” – something like Seattle’s Pike Place Market – that could result in similar here in Austin.
Council Member Mike
SNAP is the State of
Hockenyos’ findings could also help resurrect the city’s languishing sustainable food program, currently in the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
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