Do you have an idea for a food product that you would like to sell? If so, Huron County has an excellent opportunity for you.
The Huron County Economic Development Corporation in partnership with the Huron County Area Technical Center offers a kitchen incubator program to help you take your food product from idea to reality! The Huron County Food Works Kitchen Incubator can connect you with important resources, in addition, to access to a kitchen fully stocked with tools and equipment to get your food product prepared and ready for distribution.
The Food Works Kitchen Incubator is located in the Huron County Tech Center has been assisting local food entrepreneurs and startups to build successful food businesses since 2003. One successful food business to have started at the Huron County Kitchen is Empkie’s Farm Market, who used the kitchen to begin producing their famous frozen sweet corn.
“It was an excellent opportunity for us to look into producing frozen sweet corn without the expense of a commercial kitchen. We froze corn in the kitchen for three years before building our own commercial kitchen. We have, since building, added our own line of Empkie's Farm Market salsas. Our intention is to continue adding products in the future. The kitchen was easy to arrange for time and the staff was very supportive.” Paul Empkie - Empkie’s Farm Market
Starting a new food business from scratch may seem overwhelming, but with help from the Food Works Kitchen Incubator, you can access both free and affordable resources to launch your new food project. The first thing the Huron County EDC recommends prior to getting started is to call the EDC at 989.269.6431 with your specific questions and you can fill out the Huron County Kitchen Intake Application Form to gain access to the kitchen. Then discuss your business plan with Frank Gublo, a Michigan State University Product Innovation Counselor. From there, you can take advantage of the required visit from Dan Dickinson, Senior Food Specialist with the Michigan Department of Agriculture to get your food license. This screening will help you to determine some of the fundamental requirements, such as insurance and permits, to successfully turn your food idea into a legitimate food business.
Once you have your business plan well thought out and the fundamental requirements out of the way, you can begin to take action. To gain access to the kitchen, a food sanitation and safety workshop called ServSafe is required. You can check out the MSU Extension calendar for a schedule of class dates or contact John Miles at the Huron County Area Technical Center to get a ServSafe self-study workbook and schedule an individual test appointment.
Some of the food entrepreneurs and startups currently utilizing the Food Works Kitchen for their production include Margo’s Nutz, Raji Sauce, RusticRiverKettleCorn and the Care2Share Baking Company. So what are you waiting for, there’s no time like the present. Let’s add your new food business to the list!
“The Huron County Food Works Kitchen is an excellent place to start to build your food business. Not only does the kitchen provide nearly all of the basic kitchen utensils and equipment you’ll need to help get your food product into production, it is also affordable. Margo’s Nutz would not be where it is today without the Huron County Food Works Kitchen.” Margo Roth - Margo’s Nutz
“The Kitchen incubator is an excellent resource to the community. The kitchen incubator allows for food entrepreneurs to incubate their business which allows them time to foster the growth necessary to build a sustainable venture. If you are considering a food business, give the kitchen incubator a try.” Eric Schigneck - RusticRiverKettleCorn
"The incubator program has afforded us the opportunity to work in a commercial facility and produce a very high quality "Made in Michigan" product at reasonable rate. It has also given us the opportunity to introduce our cause (raising awareness and funds for anti-bullying and anti-violence programs throughout Michigan) to the Huron County area and beyond. Basically, not only putting Ned's Pretzels and Care2Share on the map, but also putting Bad Axe on the map. It raises great conversation at our venues and craft shows and opens people up to the option of visiting the area. This is one of the largest incubators in the state and we are able to produce more pretzels in this kitchen then in any of the other facilities that we have researched or visited." Jeanine McMillan - Care2Share Baking and Ned's Pretzels