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Food startups get new incubator site


/From left, Gov. Susana Martinez along with Rio Arriba County Commission Chairman Barney Trujillo, Espanola Mayor Alice Lucero and Roger Gonzales, with Siete del Norte, tour the new Northern New Mexico Food Hub\’s Sostenga Kitchen in Espanola, Tuesday October 13, 2015. The new commercial northern new mexico food hub kitchen will be used by farmers and food entrpreneurs. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE, N.M. — The Northern New Mexico Food Hub’s Sostenga Kitchen, a business incubator for new food startups, was officially opened Tuesday at a new location in downtown Española by Gov. Susana Martinez.

Closed in 2012 and revived in 2014 in temporary space at Northern New Mexico College, Sostenga has a commercial kitchen as well as training and mentoring resources. The Rio Grande Development Corp.’s nonprofit Siete del Norte in Española manages the kitchen.

The kitchen will be available to farmers and artisan food producers that make such items as jams, preserves and baked goods. The ultimate goal is to help entrepreneurs get their products distributed in the mainstream food supply chain.

“The project unites governmental agencies, for-profit businesses and nonprofit enterprises in a regional collaboration designed to provide low-income families with the tools and resources to support, encourage and capitalize regional small farming entrepreneurial activities,” says the Siete del Norte website.

The kitchen and its related packaging equipment will be housed in about 6,000 square feet of a 25,000-square-foot former auto dealership owned by the city of Española. The renovated building will include space for a community center and other local functions.

In her remarks at the grand opening, Martinez cited the success of Taos Mountain Energy Bar, which got its start in a community kitchen in Taos and earlier this year moved into a 10,000-square-foot facility in Questa. The company makes organic snack bars.

The Sostenga Kitchen’s counterpart in Albuquerque is the Rio Grande Development Corp.’s Mixing Bowl incubator, established in 2005 at the South Valley Economic Development Center. The Mixing Bowl works with about 250 potential entrepreneurs every year.