Archives for FCCDC News

Client Focus: Africana Villa

Entrepreneurs turn a 6,000 square foot vacant building into a neighborhood asset providing healthy food that also meets the needs and tastes of a culturally diverse population. Africana Villa—a food market, West African restaurant (the first in the city of Springfield), and clothing store—opened its doors earlier this month at the corner of Locust and Dickinson streets in Springfield.  When Roseline and Obioma Chiuwa first reached out to FCCDC in the spring of 2022, it seemed like a logical progression to grow their Afro-Caribbean food buying “club” to a retail storefront in the Springfield neighborhood they called home. When staff
Read More

Client Focus: Flis Market

Owners bring a lively market to an Erving landmark If you’ve driven on Route 2 in Erving, chances are you’ve seen Flis Market. Located in a 200-year-old structure formerly called Erving House, the community-based general store serves up house-made grab-and-go lunches and dinners seven days a week, as well as meat and cheese; beer, wine and spirits; and grocery items. Owners Jon and Liz Flis have invested heavily in the historic building (there is a photo of it dated 1825), recently securing a Healthy Food Financing Initiative grant through the U.S.D.A. to improve access to fresh, healthy foods in underserved
Read More

The Heart Work and Artwork in Creating a Racial Justice Reflective Journey

Artist Mari “Mars” Champagne poses and answers important questions Imagine an interactive program that provides business owners—from corporations to entrepreneurs—with a way to account for how race and racial justice take form in their workplace. The Racial Justice Reflective Journey tool prompts reflection on race, business demographics, and biases in order to facilitate a more open conversation about how racial perspectives play out in each individual workplace. The tool has been developed by a team led by Traci Talbert, the Racial Justice and Community Engagement Leader at the Franklin County CDC, with artist and activist Mari Champagne, Liz Goodman, and
Read More

Client Focus: Al-Nassir International Market

A store’s expansion creates new openings for internationally inspired local food At independent grocery store Al-Nassir International Market in West Springfield, you can find imported goods, homemade prepared food, home products, and—after working with the Franklin County CDC—halal meats. Halal food is food that adheres to Islamic law, as defined in the Koran. A stroll through the aisles provides shoppers with specialty and hard-to-find options ranging from shelf-stable date syrup and rose water to refrigerated items such as the thick yogurt-cheese, labneh. Freshly baked Turkish bread was coming out of the oven on the day we visited, and bags of
Read More

Client Focus: Valley Malt and Ground Up

This could be local malt’s moment. Craft brewers have always had a choice to make: Pay less for European malt or a bit more for domestic. However, increased costs for European malt—and for shipping it overseas—have Valley Malt co-founder Andrea Stanley and other domestic maltsters hoping for a tipping of the scale toward local product, and the sustainable impact this makes across its supply chain. Even as her costs rise, Stanley wants to be ready for any opportunities a changing market brings.  Malting is the process of germinating and then drying grain with hot air. When Valley Malt opened in
Read More

Brands We Love: Round Table Farm

Marlo Stein and Archer Meier started Round Table Farm in 2021 as the new stewards of the historic Robinson Farm in Hardwick, Massachusetts. Both proud queer and Jewish farmers who are passionate about building community, crafting beautiful products, and working in tandem with the land, they make small-batch, raw milk, aged cheeses that defy labels. Read on to learn more about Round Table Farm.    What brought you to this business? We have both been farming for many years and knew that at one point we wanted to run a creamery. Cheesemaking appealed to us because it was a venture
Read More

Client Focus: Our Family Farms

An Anchor Dairy Moooves Forward It’s been a long time coming and Our Family Farms’ new bottling plant is now churning out milk in pretty new containers. At a recent grand opening at the Leyden-based Bree-Z-Knoll Farm, Angie Facey welcomed guests, including Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources Commissioner Ashley Randle, who pronounced June Dairy Month.   The $1.8 million, 4,500 square foot operation includes a creamery where the farm’s 120 happy cows step onto an automated milking station whenever they feel like it. The robots take it from there, collecting their fresh milk. The bottling plant fills quarts and pints
Read More

Recovery-Friendly Workplaces: Removing Stigma

In this tight labor market, many employers are finding it hard to find workers. A recent event offered some solutions that might not be top of mind: expanding employment offerings for people in recovery, people who are formerly incarcerated, and people who are neurodivergent.   Convened at Greenfield Community College by the Opioid Task Force, the gathering—Building Recovery-Friendly Workplaces in Franklin County and the North Quabbin Region—brought together experts in the field for a discussion on how to remove stigma about addiction and contact with the justice system, and provided resources for employers.   Mickey Wiles, CEO and Founder of
Read More

Client Focus: Meriyem’s

A family business serves Mediterranean food with “giving hearts” A new venture offering Moroccan and Mediterranean cuisine at 186 Main Street in Northampton is slated to open early this summer. The owners at Meriyem’s—Rania Yetts, her mother Meriyem, and Rania’s husband Caleb— hope to provide delicious fresh options, whether it’s coffee to go, a bite to eat, or catering for an event. The storefront also will sell artisanal handmade and imported home goods from Morocco in the back “Bazaar.”    The owners operated a catering business in Salem beginning in 2022, focusing on Mediterranean foods, with specialties from Rania’s and Meriyem’s home country
Read More

Client Focus: 10 Forward

Ang Buxton and Alex Noonan are creating a scene If you’re suddenly realizing that people are going out again, and are looking for a fun scene, you may want to check out 10 Forward. The queer-friendly bar/venue, which borrows its name from the lounge on the USS Enterprise in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” is tucked under Mesa Verde on Fiske Avenue in Greenfield. In late 2022, 10 Forward employees and partners Ang Buxton and Alex Noonan bought the business from its previous owner, using financing from the Franklin County CDC. Originally from Springfield, the two now live in South
Read More