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Community test kitchen unveiled at SU’s South Side Innovation Center
Community test kitchen unveiled at SU’s South Side Innovation Center March 26, 2008Amy Schmitzaemehrin@syr.edu
The Entrepreneurship and Emerging Enterprises Department in the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, in collaboration with Morrisville State College and Nelson Farms, today launched the first Syracuse Community Test Kitchen (COMTEK), located at the South Side Innovation Center (SSIC), 2610 S. Salina St. in Syracuse. The COMTEK facility will assist food entrepreneurs to develop and test new food products for sale locally, nationally and internationally.
COMTEK is made possible through a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration secured by U.S. Rep. James Walsh, as well as through support from many community organizations, including the Gifford Foundation; the Central New York Community Foundation; and Enitiative (the Syracuse Campus-Community Entrepreneurship Initiative), funded through the Kauffman Foundation.
“The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well on the South Side of Syracuse,” says Walsh. “This facility, combined with the expertise it offers, will help to tap that spirit and channel it into marketing-ready business opportunities.”
COMTEK will enable aspiring entrepreneurs to test and develop special recipes into commercially viable products for scalable batch production. In conjunction with the SSIC and its partners, the facility will also offer training for accurate costing, pricing, sales and marketing, and other related issues critical for success in the competitive food industry.
Once products are scaled, COMTEK will work with the Nelson Farms subsidiary of SUNY Morrisville to make the products ready for sale. Faculty and student teams from the Whitman School and SUNY Morrisville will provide ongoing marketing, sales, distribution and exportation support.
“The new neighborhood test kitchen will enable budding entrepreneurs from the South Side to bring their culinary expertise to the world — no doubt, some of their recipes have been perfected over generations,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “All of this would not have been possible without the collaborative efforts of all of our partners from the academic, public, private and nonprofit sectors — a perfect example of a community of experts fostering Scholarship in Action. We’re grateful to Congressman Walsh and all of our sponsors for their strong support of SU and their commitment to this project.”
The partnership exemplifies the SSIC’s goals of enhancing the development and growth of entrepreneurial ventures on the City of Syracuse’s South Side. COMTEK will give local food entrepreneurs the necessary resources and training to create and more strategically grow their businesses. COMTEK is designed to leverage the entrepreneurial programs and physical space made available to start-up companies by the SSIC as well as the Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (WISE) Center, also located at the SSIC.
“Entrepreneurship is an important component of the engine that drives the Central New York economy,” says Ray Cross, president of SUNY Morrisville. “COMTEK will give aspiring food entrepreneurs the tools they will need to succeed in the business climate of the 21st century. We are excited to be a part of this venture and look forward to working with clients to get more New York food products in the marketplace.”
“The Central New York Community Foundation is so pleased to be able to support this initiative, which we believe will have lasting benefits for our community,” says Peggy Ogden, president and CEO of the CNY Community Foundation. “The Community Foundation has long been dedicated to programs that create and enhance opportunities for local residents, and we’re confident COMTEK will do just that — provide a new outlet for economic vibrancy on Syracuse’s South Side, helping to transform that community in the process.”
The SSIC is a 14,000-square-foot, inner-city business incubator designed to foster the creation of new ventures and to help existing businesses grow. The program is part of the larger South Side Entrepreneurial Connect Initiative (SSECP), which seeks to identify and support 100 sustainable ventures over five years, and includes infrastructure building, student and faculty engagement through consulting teams, a micro-credit loan fund, training programs for entrepreneurs, and opportunities for minority purchasing.
Nelson Farms serves New York farmers, small business owners and entrepreneurs in producing, packaging and marketing food products. Nelson Farms currently produces an average of 18,300 items each month, which are carried in more than 1,000 retail outlets nationwide.
For more information or to schedule an interview, contact Amy Mehringer, communications manager for the Whitman School of Management, at (315) 443-3834 or firstname.lastname@example.org.