(New) Home Sweet Home

September 3, 2010 § 2 Comments

(This post is brought to you by our fearless Development Director, Amy Szabo. Armed with heaps of non-profit and development experience, Amy is charged with grant-wrangling and donor cultivation to keep our programs funded and our community strong. Today she’s got some really exciting news to share! -Evelyn) 

ECDI bought a building this week, and we feel like first-time homeowners! If everything goes as planned, as of October 1, our offices will be housed at 1655 Old Leonard Ave. Our new home is a renovated 2-story schoolhouse that was built in 1902. It has lots of windows and plenty of space and is packed full of character. We can’t wait to move!

 Besides having a cool space to call home, we are planning some really interesting projects for our new building to meet the needs of our thriving entrepreneurial community. The schoolhouse came with three giant warehouses and lots of parking space. While two of the warehouses are leased to outside tenants right now, we are going to turn the third warehouse into a food cart commissary and commercial bakery.

 If you have spent much time with us over the last year and a half, you know that we launched our Growing Entrepreneurs Initiative (GEI) in 2009 with seed funding from some great local partners, including the Franklin County Commissioners, Huntington National Bank, Kroger, and the US Bancorp Foundation.  The GEI program has focused on developing resources for local food entrepreneurs, including a loan fund earmarked for food businesses; workshops and seminars for food entrepreneurs, including an introduction to business models for food manufacturers, restaurants, caterers, and mobile cart vendors; networking events with other food vendors, and experts in marketing, packaging, and food safety; and assistance in accessing area food production facilities and food research experts.

 But it’s time for phase two of the program. In order to best support food-based transportation businesses and leverage the existing infrastructure of the Growing Entrepreneurs Initiative, ECDI has surveyed the resources available for food entrepreneurs in Central Ohio, and talked to owners of these businesses as well as experts in the field. Through this market research, ECDI has identified several areas of need. These identified needs include:

  • A food cart commissary, including a prep kitchen and cart and delivery truck storage area;
  • A shared, commercial bakery; and dry and cold product storage space both for food cart operators and other food entrepreneurs; and
  • Point-to-point delivery and transportation services and support for food entrepreneurs.

We’ve decided to use a new building to meet these needs. Over the next six months, we’re going to turn the empty warehouse into a food cart commissary with food prep and storage space for mobile food carts, vans and trucks; a commercial bakery that can accommodate up to four bakers at a time; and a product storage facility. All of these state-of-the-art spaces will be leased to local food cart and truck owners, caterers, and bakers for reasonable rates, and will come with access to Bob Kramer’s food safety expertise and our small business development expertise.

The next month is going to be crazy for us as we pack, move, and unpack, but we’ll do our best to answer our email and voicemail. If you’re patient with us, we think you’ll be as happy with our new place as we are.

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