After the City of Campbell River engaged in a review of its agricultural plan back in 2011 and found a growing interest within the community for locally-sourced and produced food products, it decided to make a move in supporting those interested in furthering that goal.
And so, on Wednesday, July 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the city’s economic development department will be putting on a workshop where anyone interested can chime in on food-based startups and learn a little about what the city is trying to do to foster that industry’s growth in town.
“There was a lot of interest in terms of local food production, and in the plan, it talked about niche products and artisan products, so we’re just kind of following up on that and gauge interest and see if people would be interested in participating in a food incubator as part of our Modern Entrepreneur series,” says Karla Duarte, they city’s economic development analyst
Wait. What’s a food incubator?
“It would take people with either an idea or a product who aren’t really sure how to being it to market and it would take them through what it takes to be a food entrepreneur,” Duarte says. “So it could be anything from a food product they make or a recipe or even a seafood business opportunity idea they might have.
The incubator would be run in partnership with Spring, a Vancouver-based entrepreneur support business, who Duarte says “has expertise in food business, manufacturing and services, and they would walk through the process of accessing capital, taking your product to market, scale up, those kinds of things.”
City manager Deborah Sargent says the concept of encouraging food startups “really meshes nicely with our Sustainable Official Community Plan and some of the goals of our Agricultural Plan and ties in nicely with some of the food entrepreneurs and restaurants that are already starting to crop up in our city.”
Sargent says another factor the city is interested in encouraging food entrepreneurs, is that getting into the food business is “relatively low barrier compared to other types of business, and it’s very scaleable. The idea of the incubator is to take something that might just be the very crux of an idea and figure out whether it’s something that would work in production, mass production, or something that would work as an artisan or niche product, which is still very valuable to our local food sustainability goals.”
So whether you have an amazing jam recipe and all your friends bug you for a jar of every time you make it or you make wedding cakes for friends-of-friends on the side, or you have a small booth at a farmer’s market once in a while to sell your candy, or you run a full-on restaurant looking to expand your locally-sourced options, Duarte says there’s space around the table for you at the workshop.
“Studies do indicate that there’s a high demand these days for specialty food products, and it also creates a certain sense of pride within the community when there’s a diversity of locally created and locally made foods, as well,” Duarte says.
“Specialty foods and locally made foods are now billion-dollar industries,” adds city economic development officer Rose Klukas. “It’s a good time to take your recipe or your idea to the next level.”
For anyone who would like to be a part of the move towards locally-sourced food having more of a focus in the community, or would like to attend the meeting but can’t be there this time, the economic development department is open to hearing your thoughts by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 250-286-5769.
Those planning on attending the lunch on July 17 are asked to RSVP by using those means, as well.