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PR- 378-11
October 24, 2011


Networking Event for Food Manufacturers Is Part of Mayor Bloomberg's Immigrant Entrepreneur Initiatives and Speaker Quinn's FoodWorks Initiative

Over 100 New York City Based Food Manufacturers Attend Event to Network with Buyers, Distributors, Suppliers, and Industry Experts

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn today attended the first ever City-sponsored food manufacturer business expo and networking event where more than 100 New York City based immigrant food manufacturing businesses connected with brokers, buyers and wholesalers from the food industry. The expo also marked the beginning of a competition for immigrant entrepreneurs to participate in an international trade show. The competition is open to New York City-based immigrant food manufacturers, with four companies to win a booth sponsored by the Economic Development Corporation in the National Association of Specialty Food Trade Summer Fancy Food Show, in June 2012, in Washington DC. The international show is expected to attract more than 15,000 buyers from around the world to source products for their stores and restaurants for the year to come.

"When immigrants come to New York City, they enrich our culture and our communities - but they also build our economy," said Mayor Bloomberg. "Entrepreneurs from around the world come here to start businesses and create jobs, and we must do everything we can to support their quest to build better lives. Food manufacturing is a growing sector of the City's economy, and today's expo will further strengthen the connections between the established industry and new start-ups."

This expo is the result of both the Mayor's immigrant entrepreneur initiatives and the Speaker's FoodWorks initiative, which is part of a larger effort to grow the local food economy by supporting the city's food manufacturers.  Over 100 New York City based food manufacturers attended the expo, in order to develop skills to expand their business and access new markets. The event included networking opportunities with buyers, distributors, suppliers, and industry experts; as well as technical assistance workshops led by professionals in the field. Over 19,000 New Yorkers work in over 900 food manufacturing firms, and about 70 percent of those working within the food manufacturing industry are foreign-born. Mayor Bloomberg and Speaker Quinn were joined at the announcement at Baruch College by New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, Councilmember Gale Brewer, Councilmember Diana Reyna, Councilmember Karen Koslowitz, NASFT Vice President Ron Tanner, and other elected officials.

"FoodWorks is a comprehensive look at New York's food system, and highlights the importance of food manufacturing in creating jobs and economic growth," said NYC Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. "This is the first in a series of events the Council is sponsoring that aims to help food related companies expand - whether that expansion is to a new neighborhood or a new country. It's about connecting the dots, from production all the way to retail, in order to help grow the food economy."

The competition to participate in the National Association of Specialty Food Trade Summer Fancy Food Show is designed to help address challenges faced by local food manufacturers, including limited resources to plan for growth; difficulty in fully accessing local, regional, and national markets; and access to technical assistance services. In preparation for the Fancy Food Show, the four winning companies will receive promotional services as well as expert marketing and technical assistance to help them refine their pitch, display, and business plan to successfully obtain and fulfill larger contracts.

The competition will consist of an application to be sent to all business expo attendees, and available to all other New York City immigrant food manufacturers on the Economic Development Corporation website. Winners will be determined by a judging panel of representatives from Economic Development Corporation, the New York City Council, the National Association of Specialty Food Trade, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, Industrial Technology Assistance Corporation, Karp Resources, Queens Economic Development Corporation, and others. Each business will be evaluated on its growth potential, ability to expand its market, and suitability for the National Association of Specialty Food Trade Summer Fancy Food Show. Applications will be pre-screened by the Economic Development Corporation and presented to the National Association of Specialty Food Trade for review to ensure eligibility for membership. A company must be an National Association of Specialty Food Trade member to exhibit at the Fancy Food Show. The judging panel will then review the pre-screened applications, and then interview a select group of food manufacturers. The four winning companies will be selected in early 2012. For each winner, the Economic Development Corporation will fund and coordinate the design, marketing and promotion of the booth, travel costs to Washington, and National Association of Specialty Food Trade 2012 member dues.

"Food manufacturing is playing an increasingly critical role in our City's economy, providing well-paying jobs for New Yorkers across all five boroughs," said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. "Through innovative programs such as the competition being launched today, we are further demonstrating our commitment to this important sector by creating opportunities that will allow small food manufacturers to grow their businesses, and ultimately, strengthen our economy."

"The entrepreneurs at today's event reflect the thriving immigrant pulse of New York City's economy, in the food industry and beyond," said the Mayor's Chief Advisor for Policy and Strategic Planning John Feinblatt.  "These initiatives are just a few of the many steps that the City is taking to unleash their potential, open new markets, and create jobs.  It's time for policymakers in Washington to do the same by making smart, economy-focused reforms to the federal immigration system, which too often prevents the private sector from tapping the immigrant talent and energy it needs."

"New York City has the best specialty food shops and ethnic eateries in the nation thanks to the diverse immigrant populations that have made our City their home," said Fatima Shama, Commissioner of the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. "This initiative will allow small business owners the chance to showcase their locally manufactured products to a wider audience and provide them with further support to strengthen and grow their business."

"In July, I led a New York State Farm and Infrastructure Tour in Orange and Ulster Counties. Since then, it has become clear to me that we have the production and processing capacity in New York to increase the use of locally grown and regionally processed foods in our city. Increased local food sourcing is one of the goals of Local Law 50 of 2011, a bill I sponsored as part of the Speaker's FoodWorks Initiative. I look forward to finding new ways to improve the manufacturing process in New York and bring local sourcing to fruition" said Council Member Gale A. Brewer, Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations. "Enhancing Farm-to-Table initiatives is a shared goal among many New Yorkers, especially those in the immigrant community."

"This is an exciting competition marrying the most dynamic attributes of New York City - Food and Immigrant Entrepreneurs - that will get people working, keep communities growing and our neighborhoods healthy," said Council Member Diana Reyna, Chair of the Council Committee on Small Business.  "Bolstering New York City's small businesses and economic development is a priority and by diversifying our local food systems we are fostering a healthier population with higher quality and tastier food."

"New York City has always thrived from the hard work and cultural contributions of immigrant communities, a tradition that continues on today," said Council Member Karen Koslowitz, Chair of the Council Committee on Economic Development. "I applaud Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn and the EDC for sponsoring this wonderful competition that will bring the rich heritage of New York City's finest immigrant food manufacturers to the nation."

"New York has so many innovative food entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, and we are proud to help these great local companies connect with new buyers and opportunities at our 2012 Summer Fancy Food Show," said National Association of Specialty Food Trade President Ann Daw. "As a New York-based trade association, we're especially pleased that this coincides with our 60th anniversary next year."

"For small start-up companies to be successful, it is very important that they understand the different roles in the specialty food industry," said Dianne Keeler Bruce, President and owner of DKB Sales & Marketing, Inc. "The many resources available through the NASFT, including access to the different types of members in the organization, will provide the winning businesses with the tools they need to succeed."

"I commend Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Quinn, the NYCEDC and the NASFT for organizing such an important and timely expo to equip NYC immigrant business owners with the tools that can empower them to grow their business in such a challenging economy and to gain that competitive edge in our global marketplace," said Lowell Hawthorne, President and CEO of Golden Krust Caribbean Bakery and Grill. "It is my hope that this initiative will take wings and propel several of these small immigrant businesses into successful ventures that will contribute to the economic development of this great city of New York!"

The City has taken a number of steps over the past year to support and grow the City's food manufacturing industry. Two kitchen incubators, the Entrepreneur Space in Long Island City and the Hot Bread Kitchen operated facility at La Marqueta, were launched this past year. Together these incubators provide over 8,000 square feet of low cost commercial kitchen space where small food manufacturers can start to grow their businesses. The City also recently announced the use of $2 million from the newly formed City Council Small Manufacturing Investment Fund, to create a food manufacturing step-up space by renovating and reactivating Building 3 at La Marqueta in East Harlem. The funding will be used to provide much-needed capital upgrades to the site, create roughly eight walk-in cooler spaces, and develop up to three small food manufacturing spaces. NYCEDC will offer the newly renovated space to small business looking to expand their production capacity and create jobs and will complement the adjacent food incubator, launched by the Council, NYCEDC, and Hot Bread Kitchen.

The City is also looking to expand food-related industrial uses at the Halleck Industrial Development Site, located within the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center. In June, the Economic Development Corporation issued a request for proposals for the over 400,000-square-foot shovel ready site. The Economic Development Corporation is seeking a respondent to construct and operate a modern industrial facility, with a strong preference for food-related industrial uses.

The food manufacturer business expo is one of three new pilot initiatives announced in March 2011 by Mayor Bloomberg to support immigrant-owned businesses to start, operate, and expand their businesses in New York City. The other two pilot initiatives, include a new series of free NYC Business Solutions courses in Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Russian, and Haitian Creole; and Competition THRIVE, a business plan competition designed to address the challenges faced by immigrant entrepreneurs, including access to credit, financial management, language barriers, and access to business networks. The initiatives were the result of a year-long series of roundtables with community groups and are part of the City's agenda to support immigrant communities to grow and create jobs.

So far this year, NYC Business Solutions courses have been offered in Spanish, Russian, and Haitian Creole in both Brooklyn and Queens. Each course was attended by nearly 20 people. Courses in Chinese and Korean are planned to be offered before the end of the year. In total, approximately 10 NYC Business Solutions courses will be offered in five non-English languages across all five boroughs.

In September, the five finalists of Competition THRIVE were announced. The five selected finalist organizations were ACCION USA, Business Outreach Center Network, Inc., Make the Road NY, Queens Economic Development Corporation, and Washington Heights Inwood Development Corporation. Each of the finalists will receive seed funding of $25,000 and have six months to pilot their programs, at which point the program viewed by the judges as the most sustainable-and with the most potential to be expanded further-will receive an additional $100,000 to further develop their program.

New York City's immigrant population has more than doubled since 1970 - from roughly 1.4 million to 3 million - and immigrants now represent nearly 40 percent of the City's population and 43 percent of the City's labor force. Immigrants are a significant and important piece of the City's entrepreneurial economy: Immigrants make up 49 percent of all self-employed workers in the City compared to 25 percent in New York State and only 12 percent in the U.S. 


Stu Loeser/Julie Wood   (212) 788-2958

Patrick Muncie/Kyle Sklerov (NYCEDC)   (212) 312-3523

Justin Goodman (Speaker Quinn)   (212) 788-7116


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