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Kitchen incubator a valuable resource for local entrepreneurs

news@theeveningtimes.com

Big businesses grow through research and development. Sometimes that is a tough row to hoe for the cottage kitchen or even a successful small business.

Executive Director of Delta Cuisine Commercial Kitchen and Business Incubator, at ASU-Mid South, John Auker brought a trio of menu items to West Memphis City Council and announced programs to help hatch West Memphis businesses and innovations. “This is a resource the community should be very proud of,” said Auker.

“There aren’t many of these in the country and to have one here is a big deal.”

For starters there are a series of workshops underway designed to help small businesses organize, do research and development.

Another selection on the menu comes from the kitchen incubator that sounds like a morning toaster pastry, the Pop Start 90 day program. To cap it all off a merchandise mart of sorts is coming for the budding businesses to market their creations at the farmers market beginning in May.

Auker outlined the seminar offerings. A combination of the Small Business Counselor Team from ASU-Jonesboro and a Memphis non-profit consulting group, Communities Unlimited, provide seminar assortment.

“We’re hosting a series of workshops,” said Auker.

“They are not just for food entrepreneurs. They are for any business or industry.

Some are free of charge.

Some have a nominal fee.

They are there to help entrepreneurs in the community get better at what they do in their businesses. The content is excellent. Participants will find it useful.”

Pop Start 90 offers free commercial kitchen access and business consulting for three months to city residents. There are a few guidelines associated with the Arkansas cottage food laws.

“The idea is to come into the kitchen and take their idea for a free test drive, see how it works and then sell it in a farmers market,” said Auker. “We will give them the business support they need. We will help with costing, buying ingredients, setting up formulas — all at no cost.”

To cap the offerings like a smooth dessert, businesses have a market place to sell their goods each month through October.

“This feeds into the farmer’s market that ASU and Delta Cuisine are hosting starting May 17,” said Auker. “This is a platform for vendors to sell products to the community with no vendors fees. So they get to keep the proceeds from whatever they sell.

For seminar topics and registration, program details or information about the farmers market contact John Auker at (870) 7336755 or e-mail jeauker@midsouth.edu .

By John Rech

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