The Central State Hospital Local Redevelopment Authority (CSHLRA) was created in 2012, by state legislation, and tasked with redeveloping the historic Central State Hospital (CSH) campus, with a focus on job creation and education. The Authority aims to leverage current assets, surplus state property, on the CSH campus to attract public and private investment, and put the property back to work. One major asset on the CSH campus is the Parham Kitchen, a 100,000 square foot facility, with an additional 40,000 square feet of dry storage, cooler and freezer space attached. The Parham Kitchen is in turnkey condition, ready to begin operation with minor repairs. Through a partnership with the Georgia Department of Agriculture, University of Georgia’s Center for Agribusiness and Economic Development, and Georgia College, the concept for Georgia’s Agribusiness Development Center was created.
Georgia’s Agribusiness Development Center will include space for a private food service entity to operate, an agribusiness incubator, and a distribution and warehousing co-operative. The CSH LRA already has a relationship with a private food service company, Food Service Partners, which has interest in leasing the main floor space of the Parham Kitchen, bringing over 80 jobs to the middle Georgia region. FSP aims to begin operating in the Parham Kitchen as soon as spring of 2016.
The second tier of the project, the distribution and warehousing co-op, will act as a business center for Georgia’s already flourishing agribusiness industry ($77 billion annually). The Georgia Ag Distribution and Warehousing Co-op will provide business services, including accounting, sales, logistics, ecommerce, and warehousing for entrepreneurs throughout the state, helping small entrepreneurs to manage the challenges that are associated with starting a food service business. Focus will center around providing the critical link between Georgia Agribusiness producers with a customer base that includes retailers and restaurants.
The third entity that will operate in the kitchen will be the Agribusiness Incubator. The Agribusiness Incubator will provide the real estate and commercial space many entrepreneurs require to begin bringing their product to market. The incubator will be organized as a 501c3, with a board of directors that will be comprised of food business professionals. The governing board will act as a guide to the entrepreneurs in the program, helping the small business grow over a three to five year period. Selection criteria will be stringent in that the entrepreneur must have a product and some equity to apply for the program. The goal of fostering growth of small entrepreneurial food businesses will drive the mission of the incubator. These businesses once founded and proven will move out of the program and into spaces around the state of Georgia, taking the jobs created with them. Potential partners in the incubator include Georgia College, the University of Georgia and the Georgia Tech Research Institute.
The role of the CSHLRA will be to act as the Owner’s Representative (the State of Georgia) and manage real estate and physical operation of the Parham Kitchen. The first of the three entities scheduled to begin operation will be Food Service Partners. The anticipated start date for FSP’s operation is July 15, 2016 and will consist of serving a new business at Central State and movement of some existing contract work from the FSC facility in Roanoke Virginia. The anticipated number of employees FSP will employ is 80 by the end of 2016. The Georgia Ag Distribution and Warehousing Co-op could hypothetically be in operation by midyear 2017. The Agribusiness Incubator will come on line as the education partners determine. All three operations will construct a lease agreement for their respective space under the management of the CSHLRA. The Parham Kitchen is currently being evaluated to minimize cost of operations for all three business entities and will be operated on a true cost basis plus a small reserve for future maintenance.