New Food Center to Bring Jobs, More Businesses

State, regional and local officials came together to celebrate the Cumberland County Improvement Authority’s $9.2 million initiative for a Food Specialization Center in Bridgeton. The new center is expected to bring 190 jobs and provide flexible spaces, technical assistance and other resources for new food production companies.

New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney and New Jersey Secretary of Agriculture Douglas Fisher were among those officiating yesterday’s ceremonial groundbreaking public event. Also, remarking about the Center’s economic role were Bridgeton Mayor Albert Kelly and Cumberland County Freeholder Director Joe Derella.

The CCIA recently received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) to construct the more than 31,000 square foot facility. The EDA recognized the planned Food Specialization Center, to be located adjacent to the Rutgers Food Innovation Center (RFIC), for its ability to “provide developing companies a full complement of incubation space and business services to ready them for facility independence and maximum growth potential.”

“Completion of this project will provide regional capacity to grow and retain the cluster of food production companies developing their operations here. It will, ultimately, foster job creation and new business growth in Cumberland County,” Gerard Velazquez, the Improvement Authority’s President and CEO explained. According to Velazquez, resources at the new facility will range from industrial food processing space, freezer and cold storage, warehousing (with loading dock areas) and shipping to food safety regulation, marketing and sales support.

The project, which is projected to involve 88 construction jobs and result in 102 full-time positions, will be constructed using existing infrastructure of Bridgeton’s Florida Avenue Industrial Park, where the Rutgers Food Innovation Center is currently located. The new Food Specialization Center will provide short-term accommodations for new businesses until they are ready to move to a fully independent facility.

During the last 20 years, the RFIC has mentored more than 100 start-ups and established food businesses in New Jersey and the surrounding region. “Here at the new center,” Velazquez said, “these developing and other food companies will become better positioned to locate to independent industrial space in stand-alone facilities throughout our county.”

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