WHEREAS, the Center provides solutions to a variety of constituents including:
- Farmers and cooperatives desiring to create new businesses based on value-added agricultural products and/or developing new markets for their existing commodities;
- Startup food companies evaluating differentiated new concepts in high-growth sectors, and coping with challenges such as technology transfer, financing, regulations, market development, and infrastructure requirements;
- Established food companies seeking to access and commercialize new technologies, upgrade quality assurance capabilities, enter new markets, and expand and improve their operations;
- Retail and foodservice establishments seeking to improve their operations and purchase locally grown New Jersey products; and
WHEREAS, the Center is unique in the country and is already becoming a model for other incubators that are being developed in the United States and internationally; and
WHEREAS, the Food Innovation Center has assisted over 200 New Jersey farmers in the areas of business development, product development, and education/training and has also assisted New Jersey farmers in securing almost $1 million in USDA grants for value-added product development; and
WHEREAS, the Food Innovation Center has secured the funding necessary to construct a 23,000-square foot food business incubator facility, which will be built in Bridgeton, New Jersey, beginning in Spring 2007; and
WHEREAS, this facility will house state-of-the-art, shared-use food processing space, product development and analytical support laboratories, distance learning and teleconferencing capabilities, and administrative space for its staff as well as its clients; and the State of New Jersey contributed $1.8 million in FY06 toward the construction of this facility; and
WHEREAS, with the completion of its permanent facility, the Food Innovation Center will need to invest in significant start-up costs such as additional personnel, supplies, and equipment; and a consistent source of funding for its first few years of operation will be critical in getting the Center equipped to maximize the economic impact it can have for the State of New Jersey.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the delegates to the 92nd State Agriculture Convention assembled in Atlantic City, New Jersey, on February 14, 2007, urge the State Legislature to provide support in the amount of $500,000 in permanent annul funding as a line item in the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station budget in order for the Rutgers Food Innovation Center to achieve its full potential.