Urban Studies Senior Seminar Papers

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Suggested Citation:
Hall, Emma. "Measuring the Economic Impact of a Nonprofit Small Business Kitchen Incubator: A Cast Study of Nuestra Culinary Ventures." University of Pennsylvania, Urban Studies Program. 2007.


Combining food, entrepreneurship, and economic development, Nuestra Culinary Ventures (NCV) appeals to people’s hearts and stomachs. Operated by Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation, NCV is a nonprofit small business kitchen incubator located in Boston. NCV provides culinary entrepreneurs (CEs) with a low-cost, shared-use, commercial kitchen facility and a source of technical assistance. While more than 100 CEs have started food businesses at NCV, success is elusive for most. In addition, NCV has proven unsustainable, never generating enough income from kitchen rental to cover its costs. After surveying 20 CEs about their business activities from January 1 to August 31, 2007, I concluded that NCV’s economic impact does not justify its high operating costs. A majority of the businesses created unstable, part-time jobs and hardly generated enough sales to sustain a part-time employee, let alone a full-time worker. This indicates that kitchen incubators are not the way to create full-time job opportunities for the underserved. None of the survey respondents had taken out small business loans during the time period studied, suggesting minimal future business growth. If Nuestra Comunidad keeps NCV open, they need to seriously restructure the program. NCV fails to provide a replicable and sustainable model for economic development and job creation. Culinary entrepreneurs must tackle the same challenges that every entrepreneur faces, and the provision of affordable kitchen space is only one ingredient in the recipe of creating financially viable food businesses.


Urban Studies; small business



Date Posted: 28 July 2010