Downtown Joplin Alliance to open Empire Market

A new place to buy and sell locally grown produce will soon be found in the heart of Joplin. This won't be your average farmers market. It will have cooking classrooms, community gardens and business incubation spaces. But before they can get there, they need the help of not just farmers, but individual families and businesses. 

An empty warehouse on East 4th Street could soon become a hub for fresh produce in Joplin. 

Ivy Hagedorn, Vice President of the Downtown Joplin Alliance says "we want to provide a local alternative to having to out of town you know get like locally grown vegetables and fruits."

The Empire Market, owned by the Downtown Joplin Alliance, will become a new kind of farmer's market.

Lori Haun, Executive Director of the Downtown Joplin Alliance says "we're also considering it more of a festival market, so it'll be a little bit more event driven. We'll have evening activities after the market and things like that using the space. So it will be produce and it will be food centric and but it's going to have a little bit more layers on it too." 

The nonprofit is looking for donations while beginning the first phase of the project. And Monday night the Joplin City Council approved permission for the alliance to apply for a program that would give people donating money to establish the market, a 50 percent tax credit back on their contribution.

"It appeals to businesses because it's cool like I said some of the restaurants and stuff they love having the idea of fresh produce a lot more local for their business and things. It appeals to locals because it gives them a place to go and things to do,” says Lori Haun.

Another $42 thousand dollar grant from the USDA will help get and keep small local vendors. 

"These can be small scale farmers, you know people who really want to start out maybe with organic farming or you know just have their own large scale garden. Or it can be actual you know farmers, people who do that for a living,” says Ivy Hagedorn.

The Alliance is currently look for up to 50 vendors for their first market in April of 2018.

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