An effort to build a commercial kitchen for small businesses in the Pajaro Valley could receive a major boost if it can rake in enough votes in the Ashoka Changemakers’ Power of Small: Entrepreneurs Strengthening Local Economies international competition.
The Commercial Kitchen Incubator, a project El Pájaro Community Development Corporation has been working on for more than 20 years, is one of 11 finalists in the Power of Small competition.
The Commercial Kitchen Incubator will provide commercial kitchen space to small businesses, such as bakers, farmers producing value-added products from their crops. El Pájaro CDC used savings and grant money to build the kitchen project in an old tofu manufacturing plant on Riverside Drive.
The culinary project kicked off a year ago but the construction timeline was set back. The kitchen, with 10 work stations and a hot food line, now anticipates opening in early 2013.
Four of the 11 finalists in The Power of Small competition will each receive a comprehensive capital, technology and promotion package, including a cash prize of $10,000 and a technology donation to optimize performance and scale-up operations.
The Community Kitchen Incubator program is the only US finalist in the competition. Other finalists are from India, Brazil and various African nations.
"We think it’s an incredible achievement for our organization and for U.S. micro-enterprise development organizations because it showcases what we all do best – create economic opportunities for underserved micro-entrepreneurs," El Pájaro CDC staff posted on the organization's website.
Voting is open until Nov. 2.