Bluefield, WV -- The Bluefield WV Economic Development Authority (BEDA) is pleased to announce that we received funding for our Food Truck Incubator Program from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) for $400,000. On April 29th, 2022, BEDA and partners applied for an ARC POWER Grant to secure funds to launch this region-wide Food Truck Incubator Program. This is a collaborative effort with the following West Virginia counties: Fayette, McDowell, Mercer, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Summers, Webster, and Wyoming.
The program aims to place aspiring entrepreneurs within the region who successfully apply for and complete BEDA's Food Truck Training in a food truck for a trial period so they can test their menu and hone their skills. The goal is to mitigate the risk of a steep initial investment for aspiring food truck owners while providing training in menu compilation, sourcing local ingredients, and best business practices while completing the MyBluefield Entrepreneur's Bootcamp "Starting a Business" course.
Those who participate in the program will receive help to obtain their food handler's certification, build a business plan, gain marketing assistance, gain truck operations training, customer experience training, and more. Each participant will be able to use one of two trucks the program will provide at different locations for a period of 60 days or for 10 events, to practice on food, menu, and services.
Jim Spencer, Executive Director of BEDA, and Courtney Neese, project manager for Region 1 Public Service District based in Princeton, West Virginia, accepted the grant at Frostburg State University in Maryland on October 17th.
Gayle Manchin, Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Co-Chair, presented the grant as part of the $14.7 million given around the state through the POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization) Initiative.
“This makes the Food Truck Incubator program official,” BEDA Executive Director Jim Spencer said. “We have already had 174 people express an interest.”
"The goal is to start 12 new businesses in the region each year,” said Spencer. The average revenue of a food truck in the U.S. is between $250,000 and $500,000 a year. The national market size of the food truck industry was $1.2 billion last year with an expected growth of 3.4 percent this year.
“I have been in local government for more than 30 years,” said Spencer. “We have worked hard on this one. It is truly an exciting program.”
So far, 174 individuals have expressed interest with 50+ already enrolling in the MyBluefield Entrepreneur's Bootcamp -- a required step to graduate from the program. Of the 50 that took the next step and enrolled, 1 has already graduated from the boot camp.
For more updates about the program, click here.