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Enterprise Center's culinary incubator opens in West Philadelphia

Food ventures officially returned to 310 S. 48th Street in West Philly when the much anticipated Center for Culinary Enterprises (CCE) had a ribbon cutting ceremony on Friday to celebrate the pending opening of their new space - a former grocery store that had sat vacant for over 10 years. 

Backed by local business accelerator The Enterprise Center, CCE is being billed as one of the nation’s premiere commercial kitchen centers.  Essentially, it is a culinary incubator aimed to help jumpstart Philly food entrepreneurs by providing them space, resources and contacts in the industry.  To meet those ends, the space will include four state-of-the-art commercial kitchens for rent to culinary entrepreneurs, an eKitchen Multimedia Learning Center and retail spaces.

Since we last reported on this project, a lot of positive progress has been made.  First off, CCE was able to leverage an initial $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) into millions more in state and local grants, private funding, and corporation funding to really jumpstart the commercial kitchen aspect of the project.

CCE also helped initialize a business incubator program called Philly Food Ventures, where CCE’s entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to receive technical assistance for their culinary endeavors. The center has also developed a key partnership with Bon Appétit at the University of Pennsylvania. The food service management company will purchase roughly $500,000 of products from CCE entrepreneurs each year.
Through these successes, attracting entrepreneurs and retailers to the Center has been relatively easy.  According to Delilah Winder,  Director of the Center, 30 clients have officially committed to being part of the Center, with hundreds more expressing interest.  And according to Naked Philly, Desi Kitchen, an Indian/Pakistani restaurant, will occupy one of the retail spaces, with coffee shop Café Injera taking the other.
With so many milestones achieved over the past few years, the CCE has begun to receive national acclaim, creating interest from other cities around the country who are interested in starting something similar in their respective cities.      
But the work doesn’t stop there -  Winder expects the Center to officially open in the next two weeks.  From there, she expects the incubator to launch or move forward 10 businesses each year.  Additionally, they expect anywhere from 54 to 81 full-time jobs will be created in its first year of operation, and nearly 150 over three years.

Source: Delilah Winder, Director, Center for Culinary Enterprises
WriterGreg Meckstroth
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