July 25, 2015 . In Media . by . 0 Comments

Setting the Table

Herald & Review – May 2015

Food facility in former school seen as transformational

DECATUR – Tony Caccomo sees an opportunity by redeveloping the former Brush College School building to be part of transforming the food industry.

The building at 575 N. Brush College Road in Decatur was purchased last month with plans to create and operate National Foodworks Services. Caccomo, who is one of the partners in the project, began seeing the opportunity when he first toured the facility.

I knew it when 1 came through:’ said Caccomo, owner of My Shipping Place at 303 E. Pershing Road in Decatur.

“This is as good as it gets!’

The building was closed as a school in May 2013 and sold inApril2014 with plans at the time to develop a transitional living space for veterans.

Following the recent sale, construction work is under way to retrofit the building as a food manufacturing hub with hopes to have the first parts of it open and operational by later this year, Caccomo said. Parts of the layout will need to be changed, but he said the structure is mostly in place.

“The building is in good shape:’ Caccomo said.”It’s extremely well built!’

The food industry is changing with rapidly evolving consumer demand for healthier products, he said.

To facilitate those changes, Caccomo said the idea is to develop a food processing incubator which will include a commercial bakery, wet kitchen, bottling and freezing and specialized packaging and distribution equipment. The center will offer food entrepreneurs specialized development, marketing and financial services as they start and grow their product lines and companies.

The building provides ample amounts of storage along with production space, Caccomo said.

The Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County is assisting the National Foodworks group in developing the project, EDC President Ryan McCrady said. The users of the facility will ultimately determine its future use and scope, McCrady said.

“The investment by NFS is another sign of the current momentum and the bright future for the economy and community of Decatur and Macon County:’ McCrady said “The Economic Development Corporation looks forward to assisting NFS in making their vision a reality!’

Caccomo is hoping to use the building’s prime location along a busy highway surrounded by major manufacturers and transportation options, including truck, rail and air.

“This is a major corridor:’ Caccomo said.  “I can’t tell you anywhere in the country with better assets. It has as strong of diversified industrial activity as anywhere around!’

Sufficient land with 7.5 acres surrounding the building, including what has been used as park space, provides for future expansion possibilities, Caccomo said.

“It’s a phenomenal piece of property:’ he said.

A partnership with National Foodworks and Richland Community College is in the process of being finalized.

The college is hoping to make opportunities available for culinary and horticulture students, as well as open up a business development forum for students and the community, said Doug Brauer, Richland vice president of economic development and innovative workforce solutions.

Brauer said the facility could provide small business development in the area, create internships and apprenticeships for students and give way to consulting opportunities with chefs in the Culinary Arts Institute.