Iowa: Rural Town Aims to be “The Place” for Local Food Firms

From foodtank.com by Patty Cantrell
Iowa: Rural Town Aims to be “The Place” for Local Food Firms

Veteran economic developer Todd Valline said it was a light bulb moment last winter when farmer Ellen Walsh-Rosmann walked into his office. 

Valline is the new chief executive officer at the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce and Industry in rural western Iowa. He needs some good reasons for young entrepreneurs to build businesses and lives in Shelby County. 

He never would have guessed the lynchpin to his strategy would be this young mother with a refrigerated truck. 

Walsh-Rosmann, 29, was looking for a place to park her growing FarmTable Delivery business. Her refrigerated truck runs up and down Interstate 80 four times a week between nearby Omaha, Nebraska, and points in and around Des Moines in central Iowa.

Fast-forward six months: FarmTable is setting up shop in Harlan, the Shelby County seat. Meanwhile the city, chamber, local utility, and other leaders are designing an economic development strategy around food and farm entrepreneurs. They see the potential for FarmTable to help them build a regional food economy, one that gets local products out and brings people in. 

“Our goal is to establish Shelby County as the hub of the wheel of the local farm-to-table sector in the region,” Valline said. 

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