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Great opportunity for food businesses

Nov 11, 2015 01:20PM ● Published by Erica Shames

Food entrepreneurs and producers may have the opportunity to grow their businesses with a shared-use food processing center in Union County – if they make that need known and show the demand for such a facility in the area by completing a survey by this December.

Union County, in partnership with SEDA-Council of Governments, has received a $30,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant to find out if there is sufficient demand in the region for a shared-use food processing center. If there is demand, a business plan will be developed by Smithson Mills Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in community economic development.

“Many shared-use food processing facilities have been developed in the past decade in the U.S.,” Smithson Mills said. “Hundreds of small food businesses have been able to succeed in developing their businesses through accessing the equipment, space and technical assistance these kinds of projects offer.”

Food entrepreneurs and producers would have access to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-approved food manufacturing facility to produce value-added (finished) food or natural products, such as baked goods, jarred and canned foods, pickles, hot sauces, and other specialty or gourmet food products for commercial sale.

Facility users would be able to produce more food products more quickly with the provided advanced production equipment. They also would get assistance on product formulation, food safety regulations, developing a business plan, designing a label and logo, and marketing.

Food producers, regional food growers, restauranteurs, caterers, food entrepreneurs and more can weigh in and share their interest in such a facility by completing the following online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/UnionCountySharedUse – or share it with someone who may be interested. Paper copies of the survey also are available by contacting Kristin McLaughlin at SEDA-COG at 570-524-4491. Sufficient demand must be demonstrated by these parties in Union and surrounding counties to justify the development of this facility.

Survey responses must be completed by Dec. 18.

For more information, contact SEDA-COG’s Kristin McLaughlin at 570-524-4491 or Smithson Mills at 828-273-9119.

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