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Kitchen Incubator Seasons Success for Food Startups - The Business Journal


It’s the middle of the afternoon and the Common Wealth Kitchen Incubator is a hive of activity: Chefs dice produce, cooks prepare barbecue and bakers set bread and pastries out ready for that day’s farmers market. The scene was the same early in the day just as it will be repeated that evening. “We’re busier than we’ve ever been,” says Tom Phibbs, manager and business coach of the incubator. “It’s exciting to watch the project go from, when I started, maybe a handful of users, to yesterday being at capacity. We would have had to turn folks away. It’s been beautiful to see it unfold.” In 2014, Phibbs and his wife, Katie, moved their business, The Lettuce People, into the kitchen incubator as one of its first clients. Since then, they’ve become tenants with him operating the incubator as she runs The Lettuce People from the basement below the kitchen. A year ago, Common Wealth Inc. – parent of the incubator – and the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. were awarded a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to buy and install a canning line. Another recent addition is the blast freezer funded by a $60,000 grant. “That will help us launch new frozen-food businesses out of here, as well as help large businesses that are looking to ship across the United States,” Phibbs says. To read the full story from the Business Journal, click here.