MANSFIELD, OH — Today, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited the North End Community Improvement Collaborative (NECIC) Urban Farm in Mansfield, Ohio to meet with workers and NECIC leadership. The Urban Farm consists of three microfarms, which make up the Richland Gro-Op. The Richland Gro-Op grows vegetables for local restaurants, hospitals, and other institutional customers.

“This year has been tough for everybody, but we know that small businesses have been among the hardest-hit. I was proud to fight for and secure the PPP funding necessary to help organizations like the NECIC stay afloat and maintain their workforces,” said Brown. “Now, the most important thing we can do for local economies and businesses is to get people vaccinated. The more Ohioans who get vaccinated, the more businesses can reopen and bolster the community.”

NECIC received Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds from the American Rescue Plan to aid small businesses, which helped the organization weather the pandemic and maintain its workforce. Brown helped write and pass the American Rescue Plan, which included $50 billion in funding to help small businesses keep their doors open and get back on their feet, and assistance to help businesses better understand and navigate the federal programs available to them.

In 2019, Brown announced that the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) awarded a $2 million match grant to the Ohio State University at Mansfield. These funds helped create the urban farm. Brown is a longtime champion of programs to help small and medium sized farmers, increase the sale of locally grown food, and promote urban agriculture. He is the first Ohioan to serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee in more than 50 years.

Brown was joined by Deanna West-Torrence, Director of NECIC.

“We are honored to host Senator Sherrod Brown at the NECIC urban farm to meet with our on-site Microfarmers and community partners. As things begin to return to some semblance of normal, we are grateful for the federal support we received during the pandemic and are pleased to say that unlike other areas of our work, the farms were able to continue operating at or near full capacity,” said NECIC Director Deanna West-Torrence.

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