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Oct. 3, 2011
CONTACT: K.E. Schwab

‘Food for Business Weekend’ seeks great family recipes

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Folks looking to leverage a great family recipe for pawpaw jelly or a super-secret, super-tasty chili and bean concoction “to die for” into a revenue sources are invited to Slippery Rock University’s Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator “Food for Business Weekend.”

The two-day event, Oct. 28-29,  is designed to help anyone looking to start a food product-related  business learn the nuts and bolts.

“This is a chance to link all kinds of budding entrepreneurs, from farmers to chefs, cooks, marketers and others,” said John Golden, instructor in SRU’s School of Business and a facilitator  in SRU’s Sustainable Enterprise Accelerator. SRU’s SEA program is designed to promote regional economic development through applied student learning opportunities in new venture creation and business consulting.

The weekend opens with a "Food for Profit Workshop," led by Penn State University’s Extension operation, at 9 a.m. in the University Union. Participants will learn about starting a food-product business. The presenters will discuss step-by-step processes that will allow budding entrepreneurs the chance to match their business's visions and goals, Golden said.

The workshop will cover the challenges and advantages of owning a food-related business; how such businesses are monitored, inspected and licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture; and the importance of developing a business plan.

Golden said the workshop will cover niche marketing, safe food handling, packaging and pricing, among other topics.

“We think the workshop will be a very practical session for providing information that entrepreneurs can use to ensure their business starts out and grows the way they envision it,” he said.

“This is a workshop that will put together how to assemble a new start up business that involves food. We will coverer such topics as drafting a business plan, undertaking marketing research, regulations for safe food environments and evaluating opportunities for a new business,” he said.

The weekend is targeted at those who want to own their own business or increase the household income through specialty food items.

Reservations ($40) for the “Food for Profit” workshop portion of the weekend may be made by calling 877.489.1398.

Day two of the workshop will focus on the shared commercial kitchen concept from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Russell Wright Alumni House and Conference Center.

Winifred McGee, an agent with the Penn State University Extension Office in Lebanon County, will offer an address titled “Understanding the Context for Shared Commercial Kitchen Development and Some Best Practices and Lessons Learned” to open the workshop.

Shared kitchens, Golden said, allow a variety of entrepreneurs to use a centralized kitchen facility to produce their food product. Various entrepreneurs might use the facility during certain prime produce times such as strawberry, tomato, peach season. Others might use the facility only during certain days or weeks of the month, making cakes, pies, cookies or breads. The overall concept is to reduce the cost of setting up a full commercial  kitchen, or canning facility, for only one food product. The idea of a shared kitchen is to produce a variety of food products using a single kitchen.

Golden said a number of such kitchens are in the planning or operational state throughout  western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio.

The sessions will allow participants to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a shared kitchen and if one might be right for the region, and if so, what are the next steps, Golden said.

Golden will facilitate a 2:45 to 4 p.m. open roundtable discussion following the lectures.

Cost of the shared-kitchen workshop is $15, including lunch. Reservations ($15) may be made by calling Leah Smith at the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, at 412.365.2986.

A third event for the weekend will bring farmers, vendors, budding entrepreneurs and others together for a 5-8 p.m., Oct. 28, “Meet and Greet” at the North Country Brewery in Slippery Rock. “This will give those with business ideas, those with food product ideas and those looking to start a business a forum to talk informally,” Golden said. “In addition, the event is open to all academic majors and anyone else interested in entrepreneurship. Participants will have the chance to talk with professors, entrepreneurs and businesses about the possibilities of starting their own business and the benefits of sustainability.”

There is no registration fee. (Dinner is on your own.) 

            The events are sponsored by SRU’s SEA, the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture and Pennsylvania State University’ Extension Services.


Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania’s premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.