Like many cities, New York has seen its manufacturing base shrink by two-thirds since 1990. But there's been a bright spot: jobs related to food production rose 6% last year in the city. That may not be a surprise to anyone who has followed the explosion of gourmet food trucks and artisanal food producers or lined up for pupusas or People's Pops at the Red Hook ball parks or the Brooklyn Flea.
But if small businesses in general have a hard time raising capital to expand, the challenge is even more daunting for food-related entrepreneurs, which are considered too risky by many banks. That's why NYC's efforts to help young food entrepreneurs is a great example of smart local government policy. The Bloomberg administration is putting $1 million into a $10 million fund (the rest comes from Goldman Sachs!) that that will help finance local food entrepreneurs. In addition, the city is transforming unused buildings into commercial kitchens and light processing centers that small food businesses can use. As Seth Pinsky of the NYC Economic Development Corporation tells the NY Times today, not all of these entrepreneurs will be successful. "But you don't need everyone to succeed. You want as high a percentage as possible to continue operating. You then need some of the businesses to go from small to medium sizes, and you want a small percent to really succeed and become large businesses."
Let a thousand cupcakes bloom!