The Mixing Bowl: Supporting New Mexico’s Food System through Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship lies at the heart of the development of local food systems. However, when considering launching a food-based business, individuals inherently encounter a variety of logistical barriers. For example, how and where might one begin to prepare or produce a product? How can a product’s viability in the local market be assessed? What permits and licenses are necessary to ensure all policies are properly followed? Questions like these can be quite daunting for an aspiring entrepreneur. However, you don’t have to be alone whilst navigating through these barriers. The Mixing Bowl, a commercial kitchen in Albuquerque’s South Valley Economic Development Center, exists to help ensure local entrepreneurs encounter success in their efforts related to local, small-scale food production.

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Photo credit: The Mixing Bowl

Started in 2005, The Mixing Bowl is 3200 square foot commercial kitchen located in Albuquerque’s South Valley. It offers access to modern, commercial-grade kitchen equipment that is often only financially feasible for larger-scale businesses. Whether you just have an idea for a product or business that you’d like to test and develop, or a perfected recipe that you want to scale, the Mixing Bowl’s kitchen can suit your needs. For value-added products, The Mixing Bowl can serve as a place to produce and package your products. It is also available to utilize as a commissary, which is a registered base of operations that is required for all mobile food units.

In addition to affordable kitchen access, as part of utilizing The Mixing Bowl, individuals gain access to the business incubation programs at the SVEDC. The offerings are extensive and can assist with topics ranging from branding and marketing, to legal advice, and accounting help. You can also gain access to a business coach and a variety of scheduled trainings put on by over a dozen partnered business organizations.

The process for entering The Mixing Bowl is quite straightforward. To begin, you’ll need to sign up for the SVEDC’s business assessment, where they will have the chance to learn some more about your business, examine areas to help, and suggest classes that address potential weaknesses. After the assessment, you’ll have the option to enter the Virtual Incubation Program. This is the time when you’ll be able to utilize the kitchen to test the viability of your product, develop your business plan, attend trainings with a variety of business partners, and broaden your business acumen. The Virtual Incubation Program can last anywhere from a month to a year. Upon completing the Virtual Incubation Program, you’ll be granted open access to The Mixing Bowl, which operates through affordable hourly rates.

Numerous businesses have been able to establish themselves via The Mixing Bowl. Below are a just a few examples:

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Heidi’s Raspberry Jam: Heidi’s Raspberry Jam is a wonderful example of a business that creates a value-added product through The Mixing Bowl’s facility. Heidi’s Raspberry Farm is located in Corrales, NM. Heidi, a local farmer and entrepreneur, utilized The Mixing Bowl to begin jarring and distributing her popular jams.

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Bocadillos: Bocadillos, the owner of which recently appeared on The Food Network’s Chopped, started out cooking at The Mixing Bowl for their catering business. Their beginning at the SVEDC have helped to make them a highly successful and popular restaurant. They’ve now opened a brick and mortar location at Albuquerque’s Green Jean Farmery.

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The Agri-Cultura Network: The Agri-Cultura Network is “a farmer-owned brokerage that sells sustainably grown, local produce to restaurants, institutions and families.” They utilize The Mixing Bowl to wash and distribute their produce to Albuquerque Public Schools, local restaurants, groceries, and families in the South Valley and surrounding areas via the La Cosecha CSA.

The SVEDC and its Mixing Bowl facility have proven themselves to be incredibly valuable assets to the Albuquerque community. In fact, while ~95% of small businesses fail within their first 5 years of existence,  80% of companies that have gone through the SVEDC’s program are still in operation! The SVEDC truly exemplifies efforts to strengthen our local economy and food system through entrepreneurial endeavors. If you are considering starting a business but are unsure how or where to begin, the offerings of the SVEDC are a great option to utilize. If your business happens not to be food-based, not to worry; while around 70% of the business that go through the SVEDC are food-related, the business incubation programs are available to business of all types.

If you’re interested in learning more about The Mixing Bowl or the SVEDC, you can visit them at svedc.org, e-mail them at info@svedc.org, or give them a call at 505-877-0373.

-Posted by Kyle

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