Our mission is to help food producers, large and small, grow and compete throughout Ohio and beyond. One of our initiatives to help food entrepreneurs launch and scale up is our Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen, also known as the NOCK in Bowling Green, Ohio.
The NOCK has helped launch many food companies like Willy’s Fresh Salsa and Guac Shop. Recently, we have started an Automation Initiative, with support from the USDA, to bring frontline automation technology to our shared-use kitchen. This initiative includes 3D printing for food, collaborative robot technology for direct processing application, and additional types of automation. This initiative will enhance our space and drive our mission to help entrepreneurs scale up faster, allow established food companies to test new techniques and be used as a learning area to help students become our food processing workers of tomorrow.
“Integration of these components will enhance our offerings to any size food processor as we continue to work to strengthen our food system overall.” — Rebecca Singer, President & CEO of CIFT.
We were excited to share this vision with the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce, Don Graves, through a tour of the NOCK. During the tour, the Deputy Secretary met with local entrepreneurs to hear firsthand accounts of the issues and challenges facing their business. Eric Thompson, Owner and Creator of Feez Fusions, was also able to show off his apply butter sauce production to the Deputy Secretary. The tour wrapped up with demonstrations of the kitchen’s latest automation techniques and technology.
“As an Ohio native, I’m proud to see the work the Northwest Ohio Cooperative Kitchen and CIFT is doing to help spur growth for the state’s manufacturing sector and provide resources necessary for entrepreneurs to continue to innovate and thrive,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves. “The Department of Commerce shares this commitment to investing in American economic growth through agribusiness, food entrepreneurship, American manufacturing and emerging technology.”
We are honored to have hosted the Deputy Secretary and grateful for his interest in elevating food entrepreneurism and the mission we strive to achieve daily. We look forward to continuing to work with all of our partners to keep the Ohio food industry strong!