Culinary entrepreneurs, home-based bakers/chefs and food truck owners seeking to take their food products into the retail marketplace may receive more coordinated local assistance with the recent signing of an agreement between the Northeast ISBDC and The Summit to serve each other’s clients.
The NE-ISBDC is one of the premier agencies helping to start and grow small businesses in the 10 counties of Northeast Indiana. Over the past several years, the center’s business advisors have worked with various entrepreneurs wanting to sell their home-made food products beyond bake sales and farmers’ markets. “The problem they consistently encountered was trying to find a commercial kitchen to work out of,” said NE-ISBDC Regional Director Wes Shie. The Department of Health requires all commercially-sold food products to be made in an approved commercial kitchen or production facility, then properly packaged and labeled.
“We saw an opportunity to be a springboard for culinary entrepreneurs in Fort Wayne. With The Summit and the NE-ISBDC working together, culinary entrepreneurs can create their products in a premier facility while working with an experienced organization to build their business. This creates new jobs in Fort Wayne, and improves the selection of local cuisine in our city,” said Spencer Mize, Director of Advancement at The Summit. The Summit is home to CookSpring.
CookSpring members have access to a modern 2,400-square-foot shared kitchen equipped for culinary arts of all types and can access the kitchen daily around the clock. The kitchen is available for rent on an hourly or monthly membership basis and serves a wide variety of members. The Summit helps CookSpring members with food permitting and also provides opportunities to cater onsite events. The 22-acre campus hosts around 600 events and 75,000 visitors annually.
According to the new memorandum of understanding between the two organizations, the Northeast ISBDC will refer its culinary entrepreneurs needing commercial kitchen space exclusively to CookSpring, and The Summit will refer its CookSpring members in need of business-related assistance exclusively to the Northeast ISBDC. NE-ISBDC services offered to CookSpring members will be client-driven. Business planning, market research, financial projections, loan packaging and marketing assistance are just some of the NE-ISBDC services available to CookSpring members free of charge.
Northeast ISBDC clients and others needing to use a commercial kitchen have four rental options available at the CookSpring Shared Kitchen, depending on their needs. In addition to the sanitary food preparation areas, members may also rent dry, chilled, or frozen shelving, eliminating the need to haul food and tools back and forth while increasing efficiency and safety of the preparation process.
Culinary entrepreneurs wanting to take advantage of this new partnership between the Northeast ISBDC and The Summit should contact either organization to get started. For the NE-ISBDC, go to www.isbdc.org or call 260-481-0500. CookSpring Shared Kitchen can be reached through The Summit, 260-446-3200, or www.CookSpringFW.com.