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Press Release

NYCEDC and Queens Library Expand Jamaica FEASTS for Food Entrepreneurs Across Queens

Mar 27 2019

Expansion of FEASTS Will Provide Training and Workspace for Queens Residents

QUEENS, NY—New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), in partnership with Queens Library, today announced the expansion of the Food Entrepreneurship and Services Training Space (FEASTS), a culinary pre-accelerator that offers training and mentorship for entrepreneurs seeking to start or grow their food businesses in Jamaica, Queens. Following Jamaica FEASTS' initial success over the last two years, the program will now double the number of classes from 6 to 12. It will also expand the program to locations in northern, southern and western Queens, while maintaining a presence at the Central Library branch in Jamaica. Since the program’s inception in 2016, more than 100 students have graduated and nearly 50 percent have launched successful food businesses.

Starting this summer, FEASTS will increase its program capacity from 100 to 250 students in order to address the high need for similar resources throughout the City. This expansion follows a spike in the number of interested applicants, roughly 60 percent of whom were residents from beyond the greater Jamaica area. FEASTS will also introduce training in English as Second or Foreign Language (ESOL) at the forthcoming northern Queens location. In addition, the program will add new employees including a full-time entrepreneurship counselor, a part-time ESOL teacher, and a part-time data analyst to track participant outcomes.

“Jamaica FEASTS has played a pivotal role in providing training and business development support to the next generation of culinary entrepreneurs in Queens,” said NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “This program’s success is evidenced by the number of students who have grown their businesses, and in turn are helping to create new jobs and strengthen local economies. We look forward to continuing our partnership with Queens Library to expand this vital program that will support talented entrepreneurs throughout different neighborhoods in Queens.”

“Jamaica FEASTS has delivered amazing results for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to start a food business and entrepreneurs who already have started one,” said Queens Library President and CEO Dennis M. Walcott. “With this expansion to other communities in Queens, more of our customers will have the opportunity to meet their ambition to thrive in one of New York City’s most dynamic sectors. We are deeply grateful to the New York City Economic Development Corporation James Patchett and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz for their vision, investment and support of our mission to transform people’s lives and build strong communities.”

“This partnership in Jamaica FEASTS as an ingredient for growth is both an exciting and natural one. The Queens Library serves as a top-flight community hub of lifelong learning and enrichment, and their winning bid to operate this culinary pre-accelerator will expand opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners alike. Pre-accelerator programs like Jamaica FEASTS are a critical element of the Jamaica NOW Action Plan and Jamaica’s future, and we have every reason to lend confidence in its operational success under the Queens Library,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz.

“I had the great honor of being selected for the first-ever Jamaica FEASTS cohort,” said Tavia Kowalchuk Founder & Owner, Bliss Street Creamery, LLC. “The classes were intense but gave me all the knowledge and tools I needed to open my food business. One of the most important tools it gave me was inspiration. The more I learned about how to do it, the more I realized I could do it -- and that I had a clear vision for my business.”

“I am so proud to be a graduate of the Jamaica FEASTS Program,” said Althea Magloire, Althea’s Tropical Delights. “Upon being accepted into the program all I had was a dream of one day turning my passion into a business. During the Jamaica FEASTS 12-week intensive program and under the guidance of the Jamaica FEASTS mentors, my dream became a reality.”

Jamaica FEASTS 1.0 was designed to train the next generation of food business entrepreneurs by providing training and workspace to develop new food and catering businesses in Jamaica Queens. The program successfully graduated 100 participants, 75 percent of whom were women and 70 percent of whom were minority entrepreneurs. Graduates from the program have received Vendy Awards and Good Food Awards, have been showcased at the NYC Wine and Food Festival, and have participated at major events including the Brooklyn Army Terminal Centennial Celebration and the Queens Night Market.

Jamaica FEASTS 1.0 is part of the Jamaica NOW Action Plan, a $153 million neighborhood initiative announced in 2015 by the de Blasio Administration, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and NYCEDC. The twenty eight-point strategic action plan aims to economically revitalize Jamaica, Queens by providing workforce training and small business support, initiating new mixed-use development anchored by affordable housing, and improving the livability of the neighborhood through investments in safety measures, green spaces and more. Last fall, NYCEDC, HPD and HDC broke ground on Archer Green Apartments, a mixed-use development that will deliver 380 units of 100 percent affordable housing, a community facility, ground-floor retail, and commercial space to Jamaica, Queens. This summer, NYCEDC and the Jamaica NOW Leadership Council will launch a citywide marketing campaign to attract visitors and small businesses to promote economic growth in the southeast Queens neighborhood.

New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

About Queens Library
Queens Library is one of the largest and busiest public library systems in the United States, dedicated to serving the most ethnically and culturally diverse area in the country. An independent, non-profit organization founded in 1896, Queens Library offers free access to a collection of more than 5 million books and other materials in multiple languages, technology and digital resources, and more than 87,500 educational, cultural, and civic programs a year. It consists of 65 locations, including branch libraries, a Central Library, seven adult learning centers, a technology lab, two universal pre-kindergartens, and two teen centers.