The SWFL Enterprise Center Enterprise Center, scheduled to open the new 4,800 sq. ft. commercial kitchen complex in the first quarter of 2017, has confirmed the first four partnerships in the innovative project.
- Kaiser University
- University of Florida
- Healthy Harvest Community Farms – Joe the Farmer
- I-will Foundation
The Commercial Kitchen design is being developed in cooperation with Kaiser University to ensure the facility has the requisite equipment and layout to meet the needs of the business community and the high standards of a top culinary arts program. Chef Michael Moench, Dean of Culinary Arts, Department Chair has played a significant role in the overall design.
The University of Florida will be providing many classes ranging from, food business start-up, grocery shopping on a limited budget, FREE SNAP participant classes on healthy eating as well as a host of culinary arts programming
Healthy Harvest has developed a full line of healthy meals and organic produce products that will be available to consumers, restaurants, and non-profit organizations enabling an opportunity for the community to eat healthy in a cost effective way.
“The planned commercial kitchen represents a huge opportunity for small businesses like mine. The CK enables us to scale without the high cost of securing our own certified commercial kitchen”, stated Joe Pearson, Healthy Harvest Farms.
I-Will Foundation will be providing ongoing farming education and training while maintain a local urban farm in the community.
HUD and the City of Fort Myers Community Development Department has provided $100,000 from the Community Development Block Grant to enable the infrastructure construction to begin within the next few weeks. The balance of the funding is being secured through a fundraising effort currently underway by the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center Foundation a 501 (c)3 non-profit.
The CK will also include an artisanal bakery delivering the very finest in quality breads for consumers and our wholesale customers. Local community members as well as those returning from incarceration will gain access to a training program providing full-time employment at the bakery.
The Southwest Florida Enterprise Center is designed to be a learning facility to support small business owners, encourage and enable entrepreneurship and deliver top quality business education to the Lee County community. The goal is to create increasing levels of revenue through our social enterprises to offset the costs of increased services, jobs and training programs for those we serve.