Reinvestment Fund provided a $350,000 loan to finance construction and equipment costs related to a new, 1,000-square-foot commercial kitchen that will expand the variety of locally-produced food that the Artisan Exchange facility can support.
Artisan Exchange, a food manufacturing and distribution hub in West Chester, brings together small business entrepreneurs committed to producing hand-crafted, sustainable food products. Hubs like this offer members a lower risk and lower cost point of entry to the market, while meeting USDA and PA Department of Agriculture standards. The hub can provide up to 60 independent food manufacturers with the space necessary to produce their goods and meet sanitation and production standards at affordable rates. It has already supported the growth of over 50 local companies and continues to attract entrepreneurs from other states to locate in Pennsylvania.
Reinvestment Fund financed addition will allow for open flames and include fire suppression systems, two traits the facility previously lacked. With this expansion, small businesses will be able to broaden their repertoire of product options and scale their existing offerings. Non-members will be also able to rent the new kitchen. The property was acquired through financing from the Mid-Atlantic Farm Credit, backed by a USDA guarantee.
The 27,000 square-foot hub encourages collaboration among the businesses; members can work together to share ideas, engage in bulk purchasing, and enjoy other benefits that Artisan Exchange continues to grow and develop. For example, members get free space at the weekly Artisan Exchange market, which gives them direct access to customers. The Exchange also facilitates group sales to institutional buyers, including Whole Foods, which is currently carrying an assortment of Artisan Exchange products. With the ability to offer new products at a variety of venues, Artisan Exchange hopes its members will continue to expand and reach a wider customer base.