Turn your fabulous recipe into a profitable business!
In March 2018, the Collier County Office of Business & Economic Development, working with non-profit Economic Incubators Inc., will open the Florida Culinary Accelerator @Immokalee at the Immokalee Manufacturing and Technology Center at Immokalee Regional Airport, a federal Free Trade Zone. Our business office is already open if you're interested in a tour or discussing what we can offer.
The 5,274-square-foot state-of-the-art culinary kitchen and production facility will offer shared-use cooking and food processing space for a broad array of hot and cold products, produce, sauces, baked goods, juices and beverages. A micro-market, Woodstock’s Market, at TheNaples Accelerator, off Pine Ridge Road, will enable our culinary accelerator participants to showcase and sell their products, while the University of Florida’s Southwest Florida Research & Education Center in Immokalee (IFAS) will provide an onsite food-testing lab to determine your product's nutritional values, a descriptive analysis and more as part of their fee-based services.
The accelerator, located inside a renovated warehouse, is designed for use by farmers and cooperatives, start-up food companies, home-kitchen chef entrepreneurs and established small food businesses that want to grow their business to the next level. However, it also will be available to mid-size food companies, retail and food service companies and commercial users. It is hoped that future phases will include an alcohol-distillation machine and an HPP machine, a hyperbaric non-heat pressurization pasteurization process that will keep food, produce and juices fresher and safer for longer periods.
Immokalee, the second poorest municipality in Florida, was chosen as the location because it’s Collier County’s agricultural center. Immokalee is a federal Promise Zone – one of 22 high poverty areas nationally and the only one in Florida – and Collier County has been named a StrikeForce County, a USDA program that brings economic opportunities to high-poverty rural communities by helping leverage their assets.
The locavore movement is growing nationwide and Immokalee is poised to grow its brand, Made @Immokalee. Local farmers and chef entrepreneurs often struggle to produce goods that require a certified commercial kitchen because they’re expensive to establish and maintain. But studies show shared commercial kitchens, such as the Florida Culinary Accelerator @ Immokalee, have positive impacts on the economy because all facets are affected – farmers, suppliers, marketers, printers, packagers, buyers, consumers and more.
Our culinary accelerator will enable local chef entrepreneurs and food businesses to save on the high costs of commercial-grade equipment and pay-as-you-go kitchens that often restrict their ability to start or expand their food businesses. Our culinary accelerator will meet the regulatory standards of local, state, and federal agencies and its 18-month program will provide culinary and agribusiness entrepreneurs with culinary classes, financial, business, technical, marketing and food certification help, and other programs and services that are needed to give chef entrepreneurs a jump start in a competitive market.
We'll provide all the amenities and necessary licensing to help our participants overcome the challenges of complying with strict local, state and federal food safety regulations, while also ensuring safer products for consumers. Our members will have access to venture funds so they can see their culinary creations become a reality — and their food businesses expand and succeed.
So far, three-star Michelin-rated French Chef Christian Le Squer of Paris has signed a contract to work with our accelerator to help with a fundraiser dinner and judge an international competition to be mentored by Le Squer. He will mentor that chef in Immokalee and in Paris and help the chef create a product that will be solely made at the accelerator and marketed by Woodstock's Market. We're also negotiating with celebrity chef Art Smith about partnering with us, and several local chefs also have expressed interest.
We hope the accelerator will be a true catalyst for Immokalee by helping local and Collier County residents, iTECH culinary arts students, the Boys and Girls Club of Collier County's Blue CanTEEN culinary program and chef entrepreneurs and food business owners to start or grow their food-related businesses.
If you're interested in being a participant, please take our user-needs survey, which is available in English, Spanish and Creole. We'd love to hear what your culinary needs are.
Need more information?
If you're interested in a membership, read this. Or contact us for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org 239-249-5911, or call toll free, 855-949-5911. To speak with the director of our program, Dr. Marshall Goodman, email him at: Marshall@NaplesAccelerator.com