Let us help you transform your recipe into a profitable business!
Business Development Manager Ruth Fehr and Culinary Program Manager Ahmed El
|The Florida Culinary Accelerator @ Immokalee|
Are you a home cook who is constantly complimented on your baked goods and believe they would be successful in the retail market? Or maybe you're a small food business that just can't afford the equipment or costs of getting into the retail market.
Whether you're a chef, farmer, home cook, small or large food business, the Florida Culinary Accelerator @Immokalee can help. We offer a high-tech, state-of-the-art commercial shared kitchen and production space and provide our members with mentors who can help with nutrition, food safety, business plans and more.
Our 5,274-square-foot state-of-the-art culinary kitchen and production facility offers shared-use cooking and food processing space, dry and cold storage for a broad array of products, produce, sauces, baked goods, juices and beverages. A micro-market, Woodstock’s Market, at TheNaplesAccelerator, off Pine Ridge Road, will enable our culinary accelerator members to showcase and sell their products.
Our Culinary Program Manager, Ahmed El, and Business Development Manager, Ruth Fehr, have decades of chef, nutrition and food experience, but we also offer other mentors. The University of Florida’s Southwest Florida Research & Education Center in Immokalee (IFAS) provides an onsite food-testing lab to determine your product's nutritional values, a descriptive analysis and more as part of their fee-based services. If you need a business plan or other business help, we can provide that free through our partners, the Florida Small Business Development Center at Florida Gulf Coast University, SCORE Naples and Fusion Pointe. We also work with a national food consultant who can take your product to the next level!
The accelerator, a partnership between non-profit Economic Incubators Inc. and the Collier County Office of Business & Economic Development , is located inside Immokalee Regional Airport, a federal Free Trade Zone, and is funded by the county, state, USDA and private donations.
Watch this Naples Daily News ABC7 video to learn more about our new culinary accelerator!
The accelerator, located inside a renovated warehouse, is designed for use by farmers and cooperatives, startup food companies, home-kitchen chef entrepreneurs and established small food businesses that want to grow their business to the next level. However, it's also available to mid-size food companies, retail and food service companies and commercial users. We hope 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.
We host school field trips, cooking classes and other events! Kids and adults can tour the accelerator, learn a few culinary skills, put together a lunch, and eat a fantastic, healthy meal. Call us!
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. Collier County also 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 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 meets the regulatory standards of local, state, and federal agencies and our program provides culinary and agribusiness entrepreneurs with culinary classes, financial, business, technical, marketing and food certification help, as well as other programs and services needed to give chef entrepreneurs a jump start in a competitive market.
Our amenities and licensing help allows our members to overcome the challenges of complying with local, state and federal food safety regulations, while ensuring safer products for consumers. Our members will have the potential for 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 in which the winner will be mentored by Le Squer. He'll mentor that chef in Immokalee and in Paris and help that chef create a product that will be solely made at the accelerator and marketed by our 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, please read this. Or contact our managers for more information. Ahmed El, the Culinary Program Manager, can be reached at 249-5911, ext. 703 or email@example.com, and Ruth Fehr, our Business Development Manager, can be reached at 249-5911, ext. 704, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How is the Collier County Office of Business & Economic Development doing? Tell us in a short survey here.