In January 2015, East Arkansas Planning and Development District (EAPDD) and the Memphis-Shelby County Office of Sustainability launched an assessment to inform a 20-year Mid-South Regional Food System Plan. This collaboration is an outcome of independent three year U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Sustainable Community planning grants. Both plans identified the bolstering of local food systems as core to increasing regional sustainability and resiliency.
Bush Consulting Group, specializing in industry driven economic development strategies, was engaged to identify the strongest business case for regional food system intervention, based on a deep understanding of regional assets, regional and national market
dynamics, and the Mid-South’s competitive standing relative to other regions.
The resulting plan prioritizes critical strategies to support food business growth, improve healthy food access, and promote environmental sustainability throughout the Mid-South region. The analysis and recommendations within this report have been vetted extensively with stakeholders throughout the region, including industry members at all parts of the food value chain. A complete list of Steering Committee members and regional interviewees can be found at the end of this document.
This plan defines regional strategies spanning 15 counties – different from important local or state-level priorities pursued throughout the region. The resulting recommendations are meant to complement, align, and strengthen – not replace – local and state-wide efforts.
These 15 counties represent the combined planning districts of the reNEW East Arkansas Initiative and the Mid-South Regional Greenprint and Sustainability Plan. However, the plan, like the food system itself, necessarily draws on strengths and illuminates opportunities extending beyond this boundary.