Local First Arizona Foundation Celebrates the Grand Opening of the Fuerza Local Commercial Kitchen in Downtown Mesa, Arizona

Local First Arizona Foundation and Community Development Partners brought together the greater community of El Rancho Apartments on July 28, 2018 to celebrate the grand opening of the Fuerza Local Community Kitchen in Downtown Mesa, Arizona. 

Community Development Partners is a development firm that uses new market tax credits to do great, community-driven work. Located along the light rail in a Transit Overlay Development area, El Rancho del Sol is an affordable housing development that offers high quality of life for its diverse residents. From on-site garden plots to creative after school programming, El Rancho is steeped in creative ideas to make life better--and healthier--for everyone.

Kimber Lanning of Local First Arizona Foundation was contacted by Community Development Partners co-owner, Eric Paine, to talk about the importance of creative placemaking and place-based development that is responsive to the community it serves. Lanning, and specifically the Local First program For(u)m is entirely focused on these concepts to encourage responsible growth in the greater Phoenix region. Immediately the two of them began making plans to bring the Fuerza Local Business Accelerator, a Local First Arizona Foundation program, to El Rancho. Classes for the entrepreneurs have been held in the community room for the past 18 months and now the program is expanded to include a commercial kitchen designed specifically to incubate new food businesses.

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The Fuerza Local Commercial Kitchen, housed in the El Rancho development, is now open to the public with a main focus on aiding aspiring entrepreneurs in the food industry. Today, caterers and small business food entrepreneurs are forced to keep their jobs small enough to be able to use their home kitchens or other non-compliant kitchens. The Fuerza Local Commercial Kitchen offers its client-companies a sanitary, licensed, and permitted facility inspected by the County Health Department.  

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Local First Arizona is thrilled to work on a project at the scale of the Fuerza Local commercial kitchen at El Rancho, because it intersects with three of our leading initiatives: Increasing healthy food access, the Fuerza Local business accelerator, and FOR(u)M, which is focused on building better communities through developing projects that truly serve the needs of their unique communities. To us, El Rancho embodies a sustainable and more livable future that is inclusive, creative, and alive with hope.
— Kimber Lanning, Founder and Executive Director of Local First Arizona Foundation.

Thank you to our sponsors that provided delicious food and treats to our visitors. El Asadero Tacos al Carbon, MV Snacks and Sushi, Alicia's Cakes and Pastries and Breezy Pop. 

For more information relating to the commercial kitchen, please contact Livier Delgadillo at livier@localfirstaz.com.