NCDA&CS + NCFIL: Teamwork for the Win
December 18, 2019
“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” - Michael Jordan
And it’s safe to say Michael Jordan knows a thing or two about teamwork.
There’s no doubt that teamwork is what enables the evolution of the NC Food Innovation Lab (NCFIL). The partnership between the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS) and NCFIL well-positions this facility to offer remarkable opportunities and top-notch service to its clients.
Growing the Food Manufacturing Industry
For years, N.C. Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler has talked about the need to grow food manufacturing capacity in our state, and NCFIL puts that into action. Agriculture and agribusiness account for $91.8 billion of North Carolina’s economy and 17 percent of its workforce annually. Commissioner Troxler sees food manufacturing and NCFIL as a catalyst that will grow the impact of the industry to $100 billion within the next few years.
In 2014, the General Assembly commissioned an economic feasibility study to evaluate food manufacturing’s potential in North Carolina. This study predicted food manufacturing could add an additional 38,000 jobs to the state and provide a $10.3 billion boost to the state income annually. The next year, Governor Pat McCrory formed the North Carolina Food Manufacturing Task Force with 35 thought leaders to investigate these economic possibilities. NCFIL became a key recommendation of that group.
A Partnership That Produces
Partnership is a cornerstone of NCFIL. In addition to the NCDA&CS, NCFIL partners include NC State University, North Carolina Research Campus and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.
NCDA&CS can help NCFIL clients in the following ways:
leverage resources for ingredients, manufacturing and marketing to launch businesses;
assist with regulatory responsibilities, including education and outreach;
ensure that products, processes and facilities are compliant; and
provide general guidance on starting a business in N.C.
The NCDA&CS seeks to help NCFIL grow the state’s agricultural economy and jobs by capturing more value-added processing within the state. As new trends emerge, like plant-based proteins, N.C. farmers can help meet ingredient demands, and the NCDA&CS can help them evaluate what to grow and link them to those purchasing ingredients, including future NCFIL clients. Having N.C. farmers provide ingredients reduces transportation costs, creates efficient field-to-plate partnerships, and further benefits our state’s economy.
The Impact of NCFIL
The NCDA&CS sees NCFIL’s specific focus on plant-based food as a big differentiator. NCFIL also offers clients a customized experience, meeting them wherever they are in their process. For venture capitalists, NCFIL exposes them to new agricultural opportunities which they may not have previously considered.
NCDA&CS Assistant Director Ron Fish impacts NCFIL clients by utilizing NCDA&CS resources to provide marketing, business development and recruitment services to both entrepreneurs and existing food businesses either already N.C.-based or interested in locating or expanding in the state. Ron says, “For the first time, North Carolina will have NC State resources working directly with NCDA&CS, EDPNC and the North Carolina Research Campus—all to support the growth of market opportunities for N.C. farmers.”
Coming to Fruition
It is gratifying for Commissioner Troxler to see NCFIL open its doors, and he believes North Carolina is on the cusp of considerable progress: “I foresee NCFIL doing for food manufacturing what the North Carolina Biotechnology Center has done to grow and promote our state’s biotechnology industry.”