I’m happy to announce that the County is moving forward with the first stage of our kitchen incubator project. We’re bringing in some additional expertise to assist us. The announcement below has all the details:
For the past year, the County has had numerous discussions with local stakeholders and investors about the challenges faced by food entrepreneurs. Recently, Montgomery County’s Food Council wrote to County Executive Ike Leggett advocating for the creation of a kitchen incubator that would help support local entrepreneurs with licensed commercial kitchen space, technical assistance and business training.
In response, the Executive has announced a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking an expert team to help the County accelerate the commercialization of creations from local food entrepreneurs.
“The rapidly increasing demand for local products provides a unique opportunity to build health and wealth in Montgomery County,” said Leggett. “Our local farm and food-related businesses support our overall economic prosperity, act as good environmental stewards and strengthen our local food system. It is, therefore, in the best interest of all involved for the public and private sectors to work together and help pave the way for our food entrepreneurs to establish themselves in the marketplace.”
Part of the RFP’s scope of work focuses on fully developing the terms for ultimate ownership and operations of the kitchen incubator. The County envisions strong private participation in every facet of the project including financing, programming, mentoring and technical support.
“Our food entrepreneurs need more than just commercial kitchen space,” said Steve Silverman, director of the Department of Economic Development (DED). “They’ve asked us for assistance with everything from product development and ingredient sourcing, to better access to investors, grocers and large institutional buyers.”
The County’s Innovation Program is working in conjunction with DED to develop the project. Dan Hoffman, the County’s Chief Innovation Officer, said, “Our communities are diverse, and our food entrepreneurs reflect that. We want them to have a place to test their ideas, see how the market responds, and then support them as they build their business models accordingly.”
“It’s a struggle for food start-ups everywhere, but we want Montgomery County to become a place they can grow and thrive,” said Silverman. “This project, in particular, really demonstrates the County’s commitment to all kinds of entrepreneurs, and we are happy to support their unique needs.”
Responses are due by July 31.