Helping small businesses grow

BRIDGETON, N.J. - October 17, 2008 - Santo John Maccherone grows peaches and those that don't go to market are turned into cider and salsa. The peaches were processed in Georgia but now he can rent the kitchens of Rutgers new Food Innovation Center in Bridgeton.

"I can come here, I can make it, I can expand into new product lines," Maccherone said.

The ribbon was cut on the state of the art food processing plant that will help tiny to mid-size companies get bigger.

In many cases, turning a kitchen recipe into a retail product involves everything from cooking large batches to helping with labeling and meeting FDA standards.

Pearl Giordano had an old, but small dessert topping company in Vineland. She'll get help turning new ideas into new products.

"It allows you to go into business without going out with a capital expenditure, because nobody has it, today more than ever," said Giordano.

Georgi Sansiveri was the food service consultant on this project.

"You rent space, you rent any part of the space, you rent equipment, you rent what you need, you rent it for the time you need it. You can rent it for a day, a week, a month or for a couple of hours," Sansiveri said.

It's hoped that helping small business grow will help the economy of economically distressed Bridgeton.

"Many of the employees that will be utilized will come from the community. Many of the companies that graduate will, statistics show, stay in the community," said Louis Cooperhouse of Rutgers University.

The $8 million facility was built with federal, state and local funds and there are already plans to expand.

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