GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– The state Community Empowerment and Reinvestment Grant Program has awarded a $94,000 grant to the Franklin County Community Development Corporation (FCCDC).

The funds will be used at the FCCDC’s Western Massachusetts Food Processing Center (WMFPC) to help train and employ formerly incarcerated people in partnership with several Franklin county area businesses and organizations.

“For many years the Franklin County CDC has hired, promoted, and built a strong
working community with formerly incarcerated individuals at the Western
Massachusetts Food Processing Center,” said Liz Buxton, Food Processing Center
Director of Operations. “We feel that workforce development is an important part of this
region’s economic development. This is a population of people often overlooked for job
opportunities, and that employment is essential for these individuals’ success after
incarceration.”

Specifically, the money will be used to:

  • Fund two additional staff at the WMFPC between December 2022 and June 2023, with a likelihood of full-time employment after that.
  • Support the WMFPC in developing and implementing workshops for inmates at the Franklin County and Hampshire County House of Corrections on Careers in the Food System and Launching Your Own Food Business.
  • Allow WMFPC to serve as an internship site for graduates of Stone Soup’s new Culinary Institute.
  • Recruit formerly incarcerated individuals to participate in a two-day food safety and product development course for entrepreneurs seeking to learn more about launching a food business, hosted in partnership with the Food Science Extension team at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

The grant builds upon work the WMFPC has been doing since 2015 to be an
employment resource for people reentering society.