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Schumer pushing for a downtown commissary with a shared kitchen for area food businesses.

Oct 15, 2018

Senator Schumer at the proposed commissary site in the Sibley Building downtown
Credit Alex Crichton

Senator Charles Schumer made a stop at the Sibley Building in downtown Rochester Monday to lend his support to the first-ever food business incubator in Rochester.

Schumer, speaking in an empty first-floor space in the iconic building, says he'll seek a nearly $1 million  U.S. Economic Development Administration grant to build the Commissary Downtown Kitchen Incubator.

He says already, over 150 food entrepreneurs have expressed interest in using the proposed incubator's planned facilities and services to start and grow their businesses.

"The kitchen incubator is Rochester's recipe to serve up new jobs and new businesses," he said.

The commissary would help entrepreneurs like Embolla Ekille with his fledgling hot sauce business. 

He calls it a godsend.

"I'll be able to license my sauce from this area, and at the same time, elevate my production," he said. 

Rochester Downtown Development Corporation Vice President Laura Fox O'Sullivan says they project the Commissary, with its wrap around incubation and business support services, will create 30 businesses and 60 jobs in its first year, and grow to fifty food businesses and 100 jobs in its third year.

"The biggest barriers that food entrepreneurs face in our area is the high cost of building and renting commercial kitchen space.  So what we're doing here is knocking down that first, biggest and most expensive barrier," she said.

The second major hurdle is navigating the world of licenses, documentation and permits, and the Commissary will help with that, too.

The commissary has three components:  an as-needed production kitchen, a performance kitchen for the public, and community led cooking classes.

She says the downtown kitchen incubator will the first and only permitted shared kitchen in Monroe County and first incubator in the region.

Senator Schumer expects he'll get approval on the federal grant for the Commissary in the next three to four months.

Senator Schumer spoke about the benefits of the new Commissary this morning at the Sibley Building: