Grand Junction’s Business Incubator wins CSU Cooperative Extension award |

Grand Junction’s Business Incubator wins CSU Cooperative Extension award

Sharon Sullivan
Incubator staff members gather around while Rhonda Follman presents Incubator kitchen manager Annalisa Pearson with an award from the Colorado Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. From left: Hannah Benson, Helen Roe (in back), Follman, Julie Morey, Pearson and Jon Maraschin.
Sharon Sullivan / | Free Press

Grand Junction’s Business Incubator Center has long been a resource for entrepreneurs, including those who wish to start food-related businesses.

On Monday, the Incubator received the Friend of CEAFCS (Colorado Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences) award, the highest honor offered by Colorado Extension Association. The award recognizes individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions to the Extension Family and Consumer Science education program.

“We’ve sent hundreds (of people) to the Incubator, mostly those who want to do value-added agricultural products,” said Rhonda Follman, area extension director for Colorado State University Extension/Tri-River Area.

For example, peach growers use the Incubator kitchen to make jams with leftover peaches from their harvest.

Follman’s extension work focuses on food safety, nutrition and consumer finance.

She and Incubator kitchen manager Annalisa Pearson have taught numerous classes together on food safety and preservation for cottage food producers, as well as ServSafe certification classes for restaurant managers. Follman also encourages food makers to take business classes at the Incubator, 2591 Legacy Way.

“We emphasize to treat it as a business,” she said. “The Incubator is a great resource for them.”

The Incubator offers a variety of business classes, free consulting and access to small business loans. There’s also a commercial kitchen where start-ups can prepare their wares.

There are currently 30 food-related businesses at the Incubator. New companies this year include Gelu Italian Ice, ‘Ganic Grug, Mihaela’s European Bakery and Cup Cakes by Loma Hill Farms.

“The Incubator Center has been instrumental in helping people take their idea and make it come to fruition,” said Follman, who nominated the organization for the award.

Business Incubator Executive Director Jon Maraschin said he and the staff are “flattered and really proud of our relationship with CSU Extension.

“It’s been a good collaboration on both ends,” Maraschin said. “The relationship is rewarding for us. The award is a bonus!”

Past recipients of the Friend award include Pamela Packer, director of the Multifamily Weatherization Program for Energy Outreach Colorado; April Mason, dean of College of Applied Human Sciences, Colorado State University; and Rocky Mountain Food Bank.

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