Help Wanted: Local Food Processing Entrepreneurs

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 08/24/2009 - 07:14.

Where will your apple sauce come from, this winter? How about your canned tomatoes, beans and corn? Catchup... salsa... pickles? What about those foods that will be served to inmates in our Cuyahoga County correctional facilities... where will they have been grown and what labor will have processed the food, packaged it, and handled it through the supply chain?

As summer melds into fall, a bounty of local foods come into harvest... countless tons more than may be consumed fresh through existing supply chains. Small garden farmers may share, gave away and home-can their excess bounty, while local commercial farmers must accept what price they may get in a glutted market, their own ways, and watch excess crops and profits rot.

Frequently, in local foods discussions around Cleveland, and on REALNEO, food growers voice the need for more local food processing capacity, to make secondary products from fresh foods, to address oversupplies and because it is good business.

It so happens the central facility planned for the first Real Coop Local Food and Info neighborhood development is a lifelong food processing facility - the former Star and then Hough Bakeries - which remains a food processing facility today, now used by Ohio Sauce, for Hot Sauce Williams food products. This complex has a canning line capable of producing and bottling 1,000s of gallons of food products at a time, like for BBQ sauce (the product for which the canning line was built).

As we now plan the ultimate reuse and renovation of the Star/Hough Bakeries Complex, we are planning to renovate the area containing the food processing line now, to put that into operation for the local foods economy... this harvest season, if at all possible. The owners of the complex, Barbara and Lemaud Willaims, will oversee renovation of the facility, and supervise its operations, and Real Coop and other outside organizations and entrepreneurs will contract to operate the facility on a time-share basis, to make their own products.

In the Star Complex, there is room for significant warehousing, distribution, classrooms, and offices, making this an ideal local foods processing, training and entrepreneurship center for the region.

Well positioned near University Circle and downtown, with excellent access to I-90, many major thoroughfares, and abundant bus and rail public transportation, the location is as convenient as any in the region, both for food distribution logistics and general market and workforce convenience.

As this is a Real Coop Food initiative - part of a set of initiatives proposed to Cuyahoga County - WE now have the opportunity to plan how this facility will ultimately operate, and put it into operation as a cooperative venture.

In our proposal to the County, we ask that County government contract with local food processors for the food bought for County government funded consumption, like for daycare, elderly, poverty and rehabilitation services, representing $ millions in expenditures. That is one example of a captive market available now for food products manufactured here. Now to meet that and the demand of the entire region for food products processed here.

We are currently looking for anyone who wants to work in the food processing segment of the local foods economy, from food processing plant manager to local foods product entrepreneur.

If you want to work in the food processing and food products industries, are a food grower who wants to explore shifting excess crops into processed foods, or are any other type of entrepreneur interested in this segment of the economy, please post here or contact norm [at] realneo [dot] us.

And, if the following food processing equipment tags are familiar, you will feel right at home at the Star Complex, and we want to talk to you ASAP!

ProcessingTank650.JPG176.55 KB
ProcessingLine650.JPG127.97 KB
CanningLine650.JPG124.27 KB
GirtonD500Label650.JPG166.99 KB
ResinaCapperLabel650.JPG95.19 KB
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comprehensive food policy issued by San Francisco mayor

"comprehensive food policy issued by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom"

Could Cleveland see something this smart for a sustaiable Cleveland by, say, 2019, Mayor Jackson? Or in a sustainable East Cleveland, Mayor Brewer? Or in any city in the region, (name your mayor here)?

July 2009 Mayor Newsom's Executive Directive on Healthy and Sustainble Foods in San Francisco (PDF).

G-20 and REAL Sustainability

  Why Pittsburgh?  I facetiously posted my explanation for the choice of Pittsburgh for the world summit of the G-20.  Pragmatism is the real reason Pittsburgh is leading Cleveland in the race to sustainability. We have to eat, we need homes, we need roads, we need a society that takes care of young, old, sick and healthy people.  Pittsburgh is making strides. 

Meanwhile, Cleveland is destroying our architectural heritage, our gathering places/churches/neighborhoods.  Cleveland is again dismantling public transportation and racing to build new roads while the old ones crumble with cracks and weeds--all the while spewing appreciative inquiry, and policy jargon that professes sustainability. 

Readjust your picture.  Mr. Jackson, this is not progress and the folks taking us down the road of so-called Cuyahoga County reform--this is suicide.

Norm--I hope you are able to make folks see the future. 
East Cleveland  and the STAR complex is the mirror needed to gauge our progress.

(You noted correctional facilities in your post--ironically, Cleveland had a more progressive workhouse, greenhouse, composting facility at one time--on Harvard Ave.: Now the joint Cleveland-Warrensville area to be developed as Chagrin Highlands relocating Fortune 500 Eaton Corp. to the country, like TRW before it)