Excerpt from article By Dominique Cantelme in BusinessFacilities.com
PATERSON, NJ: THE FOOD STANDOUT
When Alexander Hamilton first stopped by the Paterson Great Falls in 1778 to have lunch with George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette, there was definitely not a choice of places to eat in the area. Fast forward 238 years and the City of Paterson has a plethora of different cuisines and food establishments—enough to satisfy any passing tourist in transit—which makes it the ideal location to become known as a future food hub in the region.
Paterson, through its non-profit, the Paterson Restoration Corporation (PRC), is gearing up towards the launching of its first Food Business Incubator. Economic Development Authority (EDA) funding awarded a grant to the Rutgers Food Innovation Center to lead a feasibility study for the creation of a food incubation program.
The 30,000-square-foot facility—located at 163-177 Pennsylvania Avenue, near the Paterson Farmers Market—is within minutes of Route 80 and Route 20 as well as the Metro NYC area. This innovative space currently is being retrofitted from the “inside out”.
The Food Business Incubator will offer a fully equipped, state-of-the-art USDA/FDA certified kitchen, bottling and packaging areas, a demo-test kitchen, conference rooms and co-working spaces.
“We are pursuing this project as a way to stimulate economic development in Paterson and the surrounding region,” said Ruben Gomez, Director of Economic Development at the City of Paterson and Executive Director of the Paterson Restoration Corporation.
“We’re really excited about the possibility of a FDA-inspected commercial kitchen and food processing facility being located in Paterson, out of which food businesses in the region will be able to design, develop and commercialize their specialty products,” added Rutgers FIC Director, Lou Cooperhouse.
Having a home in The Garden State—where the food industry is estimated at more than $8.1 billion annually—is one of the big advantages for Paterson as a starting point to join the growth movement of the New Jersey food industry sector, a thriving $105 billion food and agriculture sector. New Jersey is home to 1,900 food manufacturing companies, including Campbell Soup, Mars and Goya. In addition, the state is attractive for its generally lower rent costs and home purchases and for its strategic location in the northeast corridor.
As the Paterson immigrant population proceeds along the economic ladder, new immigrants join the already 50 plus native languages spoken. Many will find their first jobs in Paterson in the growing ethnic food and beverage industry, as the Hispanic, Middle Eastern, kosher, halal and specialty industry food markets continue to expand.
“Although certain industries have seen significant declines, food manufacturing industries and food services have experienced significant growth. These companies are creating job opportunities and a new generation of successful leaders for our community, emblematic of the economic development that we seek for our City” says City of Paterson Mayor Torres.
One of the latest hot culinary trends is Peruvian cuisine. It has taken off in the United States as well as around the world. And it just so happens that in Paterson alone, Peruvians own half of the city’s 2,800 Hispanic-owned businesses, including 45 restaurants. The Embassy of Peru has opened a consulate in Paterson and it now serves the more than 75,000 Peruvians living in the state of New Jersey.
“When you think of food in Paterson you probably think of all the incredible ethnic cuisine restaurants you can find here. If you take a deeper look at the City you will find that there are large and small food manufacturing and distribution companies in Paterson as well. In fact, LT. Governor Kim Guadagno recently visited Kontos Foods and recognized them for their leadership in the industry,” said Jamie Dykes II, President of the Greater Paterson Chamber of Commerce.
The high percentage of food-related companies in Paterson and in the surrounding Northern New Jersey area, make it a food hub with exceptional access to a network of highways in the tri-state area.
“As an Urban Enterprise Zone City, we have financial incentives that have the potential to grow their business for those who want to invest in Paterson,” says UEZ Director, Penni Forestieri.