El Pájaro CDC’s Board of Directors recently signed a lease agreement to rent a former food processing facility located at 412 Riverside Drive in Watsonville for an exciting new project, the Commercial Kitchen Incubator (CKI), a food business incubation program that will put Watsonville on the map as an innovation hub.
Eight thousand square feet of the facility will be transformed into a fully equipped shared-use commercial kitchen with 8-10 work stations, a loading dock and storage for those wanting to start or expand small to medium-sized food businesses. Prospective or existing caterers, bakers, pastry confectioners, mobile food vendors, small farmers, ethnic, organic or gourmet food preparers, restaurants, Famers’ Market cooks or others seeking to develop food related products are invited to participate.
“The commercial kitchen incubator project will create much needed jobs in our community and empower people to become financially self-sufficient.” stated El Pajaro CDC’s Board Chair Jorge Reguerin.
El Pájaro Community Development Corporation is a local nonprofit organization that promotes equal access to economic opportunity, transforming people’s lives and communities through entrepreneurship. El Pájaro CDC’s Board conceived the CKI in response to the evident need among aspiring local entrepreneurs wanting to build upon the strong food and farming traditions and diverse cultural backgrounds in our region to start their businesses. El Pájaro CDC has assisted hundreds of small businesses from the start with Business Plans and training to ongoing technical assistance including Plaza Vigil in downtown Watsonville that is one of the few retail business incubators in the nation and largely comprised of Latino businesses. These same support services will be available to CKI participants in addition to the kitchen and equipment, ensuring the success of CKI businesses.
The CKI will bring a much needed economic resource to the region with its fully equipped industrial kitchen, encouraging local entrepreneurship, new jobs and the community’s economic growth and revitalization. It has been a vision of El Pájaro CDC’s Board for more than a decade to bring this unique project to local food business entrepreneurs and the Watsonville community. It became a reality thanks to the Board and Board Chair, Jorge Reguerin, who invested an enormous amount of volunteer time to secure the facility and negotiate a lease with an option to acquire the facility in the near future. This new program is created to promote and foster the creation of sustainable food businesses by entrepreneurs from Santa Cruz, San Benito and Monterey Counties.
El Pájaro CDC already has a waiting list of potential users for the kitchen. provided in-kind contribution of staff time to the project and acts as Project Manager for the kitchen design. Funds are provided in part by an SBA Congressional Award sponsored by Congressman Sam Farr, the Appleton Foundation, the National Rural Funders Collaborative, the SBA PRIME program, USDA RBEG and RBOG programs. Other local and nationwide private funders have pledged support for the project.
Additional support is needed to equip the kitchen and to fund the success of the program. If you are interested in supporting the project or participating in the kitchen incubator program, please contact Carmen Herrera- Mansir at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tours of the facility with a presentation of the plans and other events are being planned. Once the CKI opens in the first quarter of 2012, it will be available to the general community for food-related education sessions and other events.