One of Fresno DRIVE’s 14 investment plans, F3 is a collective effort by large and small farmers, workers and community organizations, cottage food entrepreneurs, university-based innovation partners, and investors to develop world-recognized “climate-smart food and agriculture systems” that provide solutions for sustainable food production in the Central Valley and diversify the region’s economy with the potential to create and fill 10,000 quality jobs and attract $250M in private investment.
California’s vast Central Valley is a food-producing powerhouse with over 13,500 farming enterprises producing 350 commodities annually, including 60% of the nation’s fruits and nuts and 30% of its vegetables. Despite this agricultural bounty, 45% of the region’s workers struggle to put food on their own tables, unemployment is twice the national average, residents are exposed to the worst air quality in the nation, and communities live with contaminated water from the legacy of traditional farming practices.
Yet, these challenges are an opportunity. An adjacent, higher-value “engineering for agriculture” innovation cluster is emerging from the region’s unique industry concentration of supply chain, research expertise and specialized infrastructure. The region is ideally positioned to develop and commercialize solutions for climate-adaptive food production needed locally and around the world, creating high-quality jobs across skill levels for Central Valley residents.
The F3 Initiative drives both economic growth and equity — spurring inclusive innovation and commercialization with supports that proactively engage small farmers and entrepreneurs alongside multinational companies; building a seamless talent development pipeline; and catalyzing local market growth of the small-scale farm and food industry. As a result, over four years, F3 will increase regional GDP from 2.1% to 3.0% annually; attract $250M in private investment; and create/fill more than 10,000 quality jobs that pay 60% more than current, low-paying jobs.
In addressing economic, agricultural, and climate challenges, F3 is transformational for resiliency and competitiveness of the region and nation.
Initially conceived of as a part of the Fresno DRIVE Initiative in 2019, the Foundation provides convening, strategic planning, coalition building, fundraising, and measurement and evaluation support for F3.
F3’s scope is broad and has the potential to impact the sustainable production of food throughout the state, nation and world. Its economic and workforce development benefits are targeted towards Fresno, Madera, Tulare, Kings, and Merced Counties.