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Golfo di Napoli shares wares, discusses two State programs

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (left) speaks with dairy employee Cheryl Danals.
Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (left) speaks with dairy employee Cheryl Danals. Photo by Katelynn Farley

At the end of September, a local business had a special visitor stop by to check things out and try out some of their wares. Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch made her way to Golfo di Napoli Dairy, located in Warren, to discuss the Indiana Grown Program and the Indiana Connectivity Program.

The dairy is run by Antonio and Giorgia Somma, a father and daughter pair originally from Naples, Italy. They opened the Warren dairy and caffé in 2019. They produce several types of fresh cheeses onsite, such as mozzarella, burrata, provolone del Golfo, caciocavallo and more. These freshly-made cheeses are made using locally-sourced organic milk, making the dairy a prime candidate to be a part of the Indiana Grown program.

The Indiana Grown program is an initiative that has three major components: helping Indiana farmers and producers have a greater market for their products, supporting Indiana processors in their effort to process more Indiana grown products and educating consumers on the importance of buying Indiana grown products.

According to the Indiana Grown website, indianagrown.org, Indiana is the 10th-largest farm state in the nation – but hardly feeds itself with locally sourced items. Hoosiers spend, on average, $16 billion per year buying food, and less than 10 percent of that food is sourced from within the state. The Indiana Grown program focuses on Hoosiers consuming Hoosier-grown and produced items.

Indiana Grown has more than 1,800 members and more than 50 business partners, which include farmers, farmers markets, distributors, producers, processors, wineries, breweries, artisans and others. Huntington County has nine Indiana Grown members, including Barnyard Berry Farm, Best Boy & Co., Coesse Christmas Tree Farm, Doc’s Apothecary, Hoff Produce, Joseph Decuis Wagyu Farm, Triton Hydro Farms, Two-EE’s Winery and Golfo di Napoli Dairy.
During her visit to the dairy, Lt. Gov. Crouch met with dairy employee Cheryl Danals, as the Somma family was in Italy at the time. Danals showed Lt. Gov. Crouch some of the products the dairy had to offer.

“I just feel so honored that she was here,” Danals said of the visit. “We want this business to grow and succeed, and for someone like that to walk in our doors, it’s just…it’s just an honor.”

Danals feels that the dairy and caffé, as well as the community of Huntington, has a lot to offer to the Indiana Grown program because of the support that can be found in the community of Huntington.

“This community takes care of each other,” Danals said. “We support each other.”

Danals says that the dairy and caffé has a “family atmosphere” that she also appreciates.

“It’s all about bringing back family, bringing back friends, and just getting the word out there,” Danals said. “We get people that come in here and, the looks on their faces is almost funny sometimes – they walk in and they’re just blown away. People don’t realize what is inside here.”

Another topic of discussion during the visit was the Indiana Connectivity Program. The issue of Internet darkness has affected thousands of Hoosiers for years, and according to one 2018 study by Purdue University, there were over 400,000 in Internet darkness at that time.

“If we could connect all of them, over the next 20 years, that would result in an additional $12 billion for our state’s economy,” Crouch said.

Since then, work has been done to invest money into ensuring that rural areas of Indiana, such as Huntington County, can be connected to high-speed Internet.  The portfolio of the Next Level Connections Broadband Program has allocated $270 million in total, which includes the Indiana Connectivity program. The need for this additional connectivity became even more prevalent when COVID-19 shutdowns started to occur and many people started to have to work from home, especially schools.

“It went from being a luxury, to a necessity,” Crouch said.

In the past, how connectivity programs worked was by having providers identify geographic areas that they wanted to connect people into. The providers would then submit an application and the state would provide grants to those providers to get people connected within those particular areas.

“What the Indiana Connectivity Program does is empowers Hoosiers, because it allows Hoosiers to contact us and tell us that they either have no connection, or they don’t have adequate connection – so their speeds are under 25.3 – and on a three-month rolling basis, we will take all of the addresses we have collected within that period and we will go to providers and contract with them to provide the service,” Crouch said.

The difference, Crouch says, that the difference is that money was going directly to providers, who then were able to decide where they wanted to go to provide a connection. Now, Hoosiers are able to “raise their hands” and say that they need the connection. This is not just an opportunity for individuals, but also for hospitals, businesses, schools and other groups as well.

“For those students and families, or for schools and clinics that need additional help with getting the proper connection, it’ll provide that kind of subsidy for them,” Crouch said.

State Representative Dan Leonard (R-Huntington) also stopped in at the dairy and discussed the plans for broadband connectivity, as well as how upgrading Internet connectivity could help the economy of Huntington County.

One example that Leonard gave is that, with the proper Internet access, residents in Huntington County have the chance to work virtually, from home, for businesses based in larger cities such as Indianapolis, or in different states entirely. This would mean that they could make more money while still being able to live in quiet, rural communities and investing those dollars in the local economy.

“There are so many places in Huntington County that don’t have access to broadband,” Leonard said. “You have so many businesses in metropolitan areas that were not operating in their offices… those people can actually live in Huntington and be working in Indianapolis, or Chicago, if you have the proper high-speed Internet to do it.”

Leonard says that the reason for the state’s investment in high-speed Internet is to draw people to the rural communities that, right now, might not have the connectivity rates.

“People might not understand that we can actually draw population to Indiana by increasing the speed of Internet and making it more convenient,” Leonard said.

Crouch said that the pandemic has “reset our culture, our lives and our business world” and believes that the affordability and quality of life that smaller Indiana communities offer is now highly sought after.

According to in.gov, the Indiana Connectivity Program and Next Level Connection online portal opened on Monday, Sept. 27. To submit information to the portal, Indiana residents and business owners may submit their addresses and information via the online portal, by calling 833-639-8522 or by mail to the following address:

Attn: Indiana Broadband Connect Center
The Office of Community and Rural Affairs
1 N. Capitol Ave.,
Suite 600
Indianapolis, IN 46204.