QVC cook to lead Norco food incubator

Facility, which is only the second of its kind in state, to open April 1

March 18, 2009 at 8:44 am  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Gaye Sandoz
Gaye Sandoz
A commercial kitchen and food production incubator in Norco that’s scheduled to open its doors on April 1 has hired a director - one who has appeared on national television and is a well-known food product developer and marketing consultant.

Chef Gaye Sandoz, who has created products for large companies like QVC and Cajun Injector, will offer help to tenants of Edible Enterprises, which was established to help small food technology and production companies overcome the many obstacles that occur when trying to bring a food product to the marketplace. To help tenants do that, the facility offers affordable space equipped with state of the art equipment, technical expertise through the LSU Ag Center and on-site food processing assistance through Goodwill Industries.

It is only the second such incubator in the state.

“We are focusing on small and home-based businesses inside the River Parishes, but anyone from the community can apply to rent time at Edible Enterprises,” Lily Galland, the chair of the River Parishes Community Development Corporation, said. “For instance, if someone making candy only needs to use the facility for two hours a week, that’s fine. On the other hand, someone making a spice might need to be at the facility for 10 hours a week, so they can sign up to rent the space for that amount of time.”

The facility will offer space for a beginning business to operate and share equipment, something that is usually too expensive for most start-up companies to handle. Aside from being able to rent a commercial kitchen, tenants will also receive business advice on such topics as marketing, packaging and distribution. When the incubator opens, that advice will come from Sandoz, who in addition to creating products for QVC, also has a cookbook, “Simply Big Cookies, Desserts & More,” that is available at stores throughout the state.

“She will give tenants advice on both the food and business side of things, while also showing them how to make their products comply with Federal Drug Administration regulations,” Galland said.

But tenants won’t only get advice on marketing and packaging - they will be able to design and package their products at Edible Enterprises as well.

The incubator, which was spearheaded by the RPCDC, received approval from the state in the 2007 legislative session for a $350,000 grant to create a food technology business. The Louisiana Department of Economic Development awarded an additional $50,000 grant for the incubator and the parish put up $275,000 to buy the former Norco Co-op building on Third Street.

Goodwill Industries will manage the facility and students from the Satellite Center’s culinary and media programs will have the opportunity for intern positions at the incubator.

“Edible Enterprises is all about economic development for our region,” Galland said. “Over time, we expect to see 50 new jobs through new businesses while bringing new products to market.”

View other articles written Jonathan Menard

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