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Local food producers look to branding

Feb. 28, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Huntington's local food movement is looking to brand itself. Three informational meetings are planned for Wednesday, March 6, to spread the word about the 30 Mile Meal Project, a new program designed to brand and promote local food in the Huntington area.

Farmers, restaurants, markets and other organizations can put the logo in their business and on products, and a map will be created to show where local products can be found.

Natalie Woodroofe, director of the Real Food Real Local Institute in Athens, Ohio, and Leslie Schaller, director of Programming at the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks (ACEnet), will run the meetings. Both have helped communities replicate a successful brand that was first launched in Athens in 2010.

The meetings are scheduled as followed:

A meeting planned for 9 a.m. March 6 in the Huntington Mayor's Conference Room will focus on local officials.

A meeting planned for 2:30 p.m. that day at the Cabell-Huntington Convention & Visitors Bureau's Visitors Center will focus on producers and potential buyers such as restaurants.

Anyone not able to make those meetings is encouraged to attend the third meeting at 6:30 p.m. March 6, also at the CVB's Visitors Center, located at Heritage Station. This meeting is designed for the interested citizens who want to ask questions and give ideas.

"Local food purchases support job creation at farms, restaurants and markets, and keeps local dollars local," said BethAnn Earl, a local farmer who is organizing the project along with Gail Patton of Unlimited Future Inc.

More information about the 30 Mile Meal project and the March 6 event is available on the Huntington 30 Mile Meal's Facebook page.

BIG SANDY SUPERSTORE: Big Sandy Superstore is planning to close three of its outlet locations this spring. Locations at the Huntington Mall, in Kenova and in Cross Lanes are scheduled to close within the next month.

"We have six stores in the Huntington-Charleston market, and we think we can do the same level of business with three big stores," company CEO Robert VanHoose said. "We can use those resources to open other markets. We're going to open a new store in Lancaster, Ohio. It's about 30 miles south of Columbus."

The Wheelersburg, Ohio-based company has "roughly $7 million of inventory to liquidate, so we're going hard at it," he said, adding that the company will honor warranties on products sold at the outlets that are closing.

MIDWAY BARBERSHOP: Midway Barbershop has turned 65 years old this month. Nick Morabito has been the sole owner and master barber of the shop at the corner of 1st Street and 4th Avenue since 1948.

"I've been proud to work in the shop alongside him since 1999," said his daughter, Connie Morabito-Akerly. "My son Russell will be graduating from barber college this spring."

YPC: The Young Professionals Committee of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce is hosting Fridays at 5 -- a networking event that kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday, March 8, at Pub and Oven on 4th Avenue.

The Huntington YPC is a subcommittee of the Huntington Chamber targeting young professionals ages 21 to 45. It offers networking, speakers, workshops and an outlet to give back to the community. For more information, visit huntingtonypc.com or www.facebook.com/HuntingtonYPC. To join, email Carly Knotts at carly@huntingtonchamber.org.

Please send business news items to Jean Tarbett Hardiman at jeant@herald-dispatch.com.

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