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Algoma Steel joins with the city to rescue Harvest Algoma

Harvest Algoma is back from the brink of closure.

The United Way's community food hub had been looking for another organization to take over operations for months, after growing "too large."

Now, the Rural Agri-Innovation Network (RAIN), a division of the Sault Ste. Marie Innovation Centre, is set to take over.

Lori Huston, United Way's executive director, said this is a good thing for the Sault.

"With RAIN and the Innovation Centre being able to take this over it will be a huge asset to our community because they can build and expand Harvest to the capacity that we couldn't, and really built that social enterprise piece,” Huston.

RAIN director David Thompson said they want to have a wider impact on education and skills development in the community.

“And also to support the agri-foods sector, in terms of assisting agri-food entrepreneurs and producers to do product development," Thompson.

A major reason RAIN is in a position to take over is funding from the municipality and Algoma Steel, the area's largest private employer.

The City of Sault Ste. Marie recently approved $60,000 per year for the next three years towards RAIN operating Harvest Algoma. And Algoma Steel is giving $40,000 per year in the same time frame.

"With that, we're able to solidify its (Harvest Algoma) operations for the next three years," Thompson said.

Mayor Matthew Shoemaker said the decision from council was made easier because of the contributions from Algoma Steel.

"They were willing to put private dollars into it, and so the city really followed the lead of community organizations, and community enterprises,” Shoemaker said.

“This is something our community is committed to and so this is something we as council are committed to."

"In the past, the United Way had been ineligible to apply for some government funds at Harvest Algoma because of its status as a funder," Huston said.

That won't be the case going forward, said Thompson.

"We're a standalone, not-for-profit organization, and we've been very successful in the past with seeking additional funds from different levels of government, but also privately for the initiatives that we lead and support," he said.

Thompson said RAIN is in talks with other organizations for further funding commitments, and more announcements could be coming next week.

He adds that while the transaction isn't final just yet, he expects all necessary funding will be in place to take over Harvest Algoma by Oct. 3. Top Stories

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