The Erie Downtown Development Corporation (EDDC) is among 13 organizations receiving a grant from an United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to help develop its Culinary Arts District in downtown Erie.

A total of $400,000 in technical assistance awards was provided to the recipients from the Healthy Food Financing Initiative’s (HFFI) inaugural grants program.

“We are thrilled to be one of only thirteen organizations in the entire country to receive this Technical Assistance support,” said John Persinger, CEO of EDDC, in a news release Monday. “This assistance will help us develop an effective management and operations plan for our Culinary Arts District, combat downtown’s USDA-designated food desert, and ensure the long-term sustainability of the district’s planned public market, food hall, community kitchen, and culinary incubator.”

EDDC was selected because of the expected impact of its Culinary Arts District on one of the poorest zip codes in the country. The project is expected to address downtown's lack of a stable supply of fresh, healthy food.

Grant recipients had to demonstrate a plan to expand or preserve the availability of staple and perishable foods in underserved areas with low and moderate-income populations and accept benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The Erie Downtown Development Corporation was formed in 2017 to redevelop downtown Erie. It plans to transform the buildings it purchased on North Park Row into a Culinary Arts District that will feature a public market, food hall, community kitchen and culinary incubator.