ECDI has secured funding to expand its support of food-based businesses with the Food Fort 2.0. Located at Parkwood and Old Leonard Avenues adjacent to its current campus, the new facility will serve a small number of growth-stage clients that need full-time kitchen space but aren’t quite ready to branch out on their own.
Food Fort Director Terry Traster says there has been a waiting list for the Food Fort for the last year and a half. Startup businesses are vying to get in while existing clients continue to grow, requiring more employees and more kitchen time. Growing clients can log 40 plus hours a week, going above and beyond the original intent of bringing in several businesses that just need kitchen space for a few hours at a time.
While the Food Fort has about 45 clients, Food Fort 2.0 will serve two to four. Version 2.0 will be more hands-off as well, with the occupants running things themselves. The final tenants haven’t been selected, but Traster says operations like a food truck and a caterer will be able to schedule time in the space without stepping on each other’s toes.
Not all of Food Fort’s businesses will need the 2.0 space. Clients will continue to cycle through both facilities – more startups can log hours at the Food Fort with growth-stage clients in their own facility, and successful operations may leave the walls of the incubators entirely.
As these food-based businesses grow, Traster hopes Food Fort’s clients can impact the neighborhood with employment opportunities.
“We’re really try to help out and help change the neighborhood a little bit more,” he says.