Winston-Salem City Council agreed to boost funding to help get a city-sponsored hydroponic farming operation off the ground.
The project has been in the works since 2016. Back then, the idea was to address food insecurity by creating a two-building complex on a Kimberley Park site. One would house the headquarters of HOPE (Help Our People Eat), a food distribution charity. That building is already up and running. The second would be a hydroponic greenhouse that would employ three people and serve as an educational hub.
The greenhouse is now standing, but it's still not complete. Construction costs have been higher than anticipated.
City Council voted to give another $500,000 to the project. That brings the city's total cost up to about $1.5 million.
Councilmembers Robert Clark and Jeff MacIntosh voted against the funding. Clark says he can't justify spending so much money on a project that will only create a few jobs. And he says he suspects even more money will be needed.
“I bet you any amount of money you want, it will not be the last ask,” he says.
Councilmember D.D. Adams backs the initiative, saying the council has thus far prioritized funding projects in higher-income areas of the city.
“When we talk about innovation, this is innovation,” she says.
Adams says she expects the facility will officially open this summer.