In September of 2014, the Franklin County Local Food Council hosted a listening session on the role of kitchen incubators as a tool for economic development in the local food system. “Economic Development in the Food System: The Role of Kitchen Incubators” marked the third listening session in a series hosted by the council in 2014. These listening sessions serve as public forums where diverse groups who are working on similar issues can share their ideas for change. The goals of the kitchen incubator listening session were fivefold:
- Exploring ways to strengthen the kitchen incubator supply chain as a means of aggregating, processing, and distributing local food, as well as a means of supporting economic development through local food businesses.
- Deepening understanding of the needs of start-up food businesses relative to kitchen incubator facilities.
- Developing partnerships and innovative methods to make kitchen incubator facilities more accessible and affordable throughout Franklin County.
- Exploring opportunities for local ingredients to reach consumers through the kitchen incubator supply chain.
- Informing local government of opportunities to support kitchen incubators as an economic development strategy.
In order to achieve these goals, individuals from four distinct food system sectors were invited to share their challenges and opportunities relative to their participation in the kitchen incubator supply chain. Although the listening session was open to anyone who wanted to attend, food producers (farmers), kitchen incubator operators, active/potential start-up food businesses, and food funders/financiers were especially encouraged to come and share their perspectives. Ultimately, two producers, seven kitchen incubator operators, four food businesses, and four funders/financiers shared their unique experiences with a total of 40 attendees.
Click here to see a summary of the listening session.