The city’s Economic Development Corporation will partner with Queens Library and the borough president’s office to expand a popular business incubator program in Jamaica.
The Food Entrepreneurship and Services Training Space (FEASTS), a culinary program that offers training and mentorship for people seeking to start or grow their food business, will be expanded.
Following the success of Jamaica FEASTS during the last two years, the program will double the size of classes from six to 12. It will also expand the program to other locations in the borough, while maintaining its presence at the Central Library branch in Jamaica. Since Queens Library started the program in 2016, more than 100 students have graduated and nearly 50 percent have launched a successful food business.
“Jamaica FEASTS has played a pivotal role in providing training and business development to support the next generation of culinary entrepreneurs in Queens,” NYCEDC President and CEO James Patchett said. “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.”
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. The expansion follows a spike in the number of interested applicants, nearly 60 percent of whom were residents from beyond the greater Jamaica community.
“With the 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,” Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott said. “We are deeply grateful to the New York City Economic Development Corporation’s 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.”
FEASTS will also introduce training in English as a Second of Foreign Language 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. The program is part of the Jamaica NOW plan, a $153 million initiative, seeking to bring more retail and job training opportunities to the neighborhood.
“This partnership in Jamaica FEASTS as an ingredient for growth is both and exciting and natural one,” Katz said. “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 Queens Library.”