Legislature Approves Bill to Assist "Chocolate-Chip Fab" Plants
Measure provides start-up and expansion funding for not-for-profit sponsors of small-scale food processing facilities
Albany - Assemblyman José Rivera (D-Bronx), Chair of the Assembly's Task Force on Food, Farm and Nutrition Policy is pleased to join with former Chair, Assemblywoman Vivian Cook (Queens), to announce passage of a bill (A4166) developed ten years ago to provide state economic development funding for facilities that provide kitchen space for start-up small food businesses to prepare, process and package their products to sell. The bill, sponsored by Assemblywoman Cook, and co-sponsored by Rivera, has passed both houses of the legislature this year, and is waiting to be sent to the Governor.
"We need to help small businesses and farmers who want to sell locally-produced foods in our communities. One of the most common ways that immigrants, especially women, enter into our economy is by developing a great recipe or family dish into a profitable product that can be sold. Many farmers also have recognized they can make more money by processing the food they grow and selling it at retail rather than wholesale. You don't need an advanced degree or an investment banker to start making a sauce or become a street vendor but it could help to have a licensed kitchen to work in, and receive help with business development and applying for loans. This bill would provide State funding for shared kitchen space or a kitchen incubator program for these businesses," according to Rivera.
The growth of small, individually-owned food businesses is often dependent on affordable, available processing space, financing, management assistance and other services that can nurture an emerging firm. A4166 would provide seed funding for communities to establish facilities that provide opportunities for all segments of our society to become food business owners. These food business incubators can be built from scratch but most often are located in buildings, such as abandoned or underused food service operations, that already have available food preparation space and equipment.
Shared kitchens or kitchen incubators are similar to other types of business incubators; they provide inexpensive space, shared services, access to financing and other support to multiple small enterprises such as specialty food producers, farmers, street vendors, restaurants, caterers, and food service training programs. New business owners create jobs for the surrounding area. The facility could also participate in workforce training and development. The proposed law gives incentives for using local farm products to benefit struggling NY farmers as well.
"NYC schools are already buying processed apples to use in their lunch programs, providing healthy snacks for our kids and higher profits for our apple farmers. We need more processing so our farmers can sell more to schools and restaurants as well as directly to consumers. New York State is providing over $1 billion to help build a computer chip fabrication factory here - known as a "chip-fab" plant. We need to also support shared kitchen food production facilities - or as Assemblywoman Cook calls them, "chocolate chip-fab" plants," said Rivera.