We had a great crowd for our announcement last Wednesday. The County Executive is excited about this initiative and the attendees at the event showed that the community is as well. Union Kitchen and Street Sense have been selected through a competitive process to act as our consultant during the planning stage. We will continue to keep you informed as the planning stage progresses. As we started I wanted to take a moment and answer some basic questions about the next steps:
Where is it going to be? Site selection is part of this initial planning phase. We will know when it’s complete. We do want to make sure it’s easily accessible to the entrepreneurs who will be using it and within a reasonable distance from Metro if possible.
Is this incubator for aspiring restaurateurs? No. This space is meant for entrepreneurs such as those with food products, caterers, food trucks, etc. We anticipate that this space will help those entrepreneurs get started and connect them with markets.
When will it open? It’s too early to tell but we anticipate that this initial planning phase will end in early 2015.
Will Union Kitchen operate the incubator? Union Kitchen is only contracted to act as a consultant during planning. The operation of the incubator itself is something that will be determined through a bidding process at a later date.
How much will it cost to get space in the incubator? It’s too early to know, but the County will ensure that it is affordable.
Will training be provided to entrepreneurs in the incubator? Definitely. We’re working with Montgomery College and the Universities at Shady Grove to ensure that incubator companies get business training. We also anticipate other forms of training and mentorship from non-profit partners such as Empowered Women International. We don’t anticipate the incubator to offer culinary training, but many details are still to be determined.
How can I get into the incubator? Can anyone reserve space? There will be a process based on the needs and readiness of the business applicant. The facility will not be open to the public with the exception of special events and occasions.
How many businesses will it be able to serve? How big will it be? That depends on the site that is selected and the types of equipment provided in the early stages. We refer to early stages because we intend to plan for a facility that can scale up and expand in later stages. We are taking a staged approach to remain flexible to emerging needs.