New York State’s food and beverage industry came together for Growth of the Urban Foodscape — a manufacturing forum held on March 16 at Farmingdale State College. The event was co-hosted by the Stony Brook Manufacturing and Technology Resource Consortium (MTRC), Farmingdale’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC), New York State FuzeHub and the Long Island Food Council. The forum connected startups, early-stage entrepreneurs, and small and midsize food and beverage companies with potential business development resource providers. It was a unique chance for companies to discover what their peers and competitors do, network with industry professionals, explore development opportunities and get advice from experts.
The half-day event hosted about 100 visitors. The forum’s exhibitors — potential business development resource providers — presented their services and solutions to more than 50 food companies, 30 of which were taking part in the forum for the first time. The event brought together participants from four Manufacturing Extension Partnership regions across New York State, and company representatives came from Downstate NY, including seven companies from New York City.
In addition to digital marketing services, investment consulting, supply chain and sustainability solutions, and other key resources presented during the event, the forum provided a perfect ground for collaboration between the manufacturers and provided resources for this type of collaboration. The event served as a starting point for some beneficial joint co-packing projects that have potential for future development. The organizers anticipate other success stories that will possibly grow out of this important networking.
“We tend to see food manufacturers running a race,” said Cynthia Colón, program manager for SBU MTRC. “We hope that this event helps them stop in the midst of this race, look around, feel that they are not alone, and see who can help them to continue running forward.” Colón highlighted how important it was to make these events of significant substance and value and to make sure they meet the key needs of the manufacturers.
Colón and Amy Erickson, manufacturing operations engineer with SBU MTRC, observed that the companies were excited to get information about resources and assistance available to them. Company representatives were seen leaving with the folders filled with information about the assistance they could get in growing their food business and in moving forward with their entrepreneurial journey.