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'Recipe to Market' class set to begin again

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PORTLAND, Ore. – Carrie Birrer is mixing up pastries and success in her passion for the bakery business, Florio Bakery.

A recent graduate of the PCC Small Business Development Center’s popular 12-week program, “Getting Your Recipe to Market,” Birrer recently won a $2,000 award and tuition reimbursement from program sponsor New Seasons Market to produce her unique line of frozen pastry scones and pain au chocolate, which is croissant dough with a chocolate filling, that are then home-baked. It takes about 25 minutes to bake these delicious pastries.

The next “Getting Your Recipe to Market” set of classes begins Sept. 9 and runs through Dec. 9.

Birrer intends to roll out three varieties of scones to sell in packages of eight; the pain au chocolate will come in packages of six. The company tag line is “Florio – Your Home Bakery. Handmade pastries from our kitchen to your oven.” She plans to open the Florio Bakery & Café, once pastry production is off and running.

For Birrer, the bakery is actually a re-birth of her former bakery, which was in operation from 2002 to 2004. “I hung up my apron and picked up my paint brushes,” she laughs, describing her last four years working as an interior painter. But the call to nurturing people and community through baking was strong. She missed her bakery. Earlier in the year, she frequented a local bakery and café in her North Portland neighborhood and the SBDC’s newsletter “We Mean Business” caught her attention.

“It jumped off their shelf to me and I never pick up this kind of stuff,” she explains, “but I did, and brought it home and started reading about Susie and Kirsten Hazlett (previous graduates and award winners of the “Recipe” program). I said, ‘Bingo, here it is. Here is my opportunity.’”

Prior to picking up the newsletter, Birrer had read Michael Gerber’s book, “E Myth.” The SBDC newsletter and book firmed her resolve to re-open Florio with a new concept, to contact the SBDC and to enroll in the recipe to market program.

“Many of us entrepreneurs work so hard in our businesses instead of on our businesses – it is very difficult to sustain that level of energy,” she says. The SBDC course, working with her counselor, and Gerber’s book, has shown her that there is a methodology to develop systems, standardize processes, ultimately to free one up in order to grow a business.

Birrer is finalizing production space in north Portland where she will mix, shape, portion, package and freeze her products. By late September, she intends to make deliveries of her frozen pastries to New Seasons and Food Front cooperative groceries in the Portland metro area.

She also plans to bring an employee on board and eventually will open a storefront space, selling her pastries, and coffees and teas. “I want to contribute to and be part of the community … people coming into the shop every day and helping support the community dynamic,” she says.

Most of the ingredients she uses for her frozen pastries are from local sources, including mills, preserves from Glenmore Farms in Canby. The dairy products are hormone free, and she uses real sugar, not corn syrup.

Tammy Marquez-Oldham, SBDC director of education, likens the course to “extreme sport” – that in a matter of weeks students gain a comprehensive understanding of getting their recipe to market, including commercialization, food safety, consumer demand, customer service, supply chain, packaging approaches, capital access, record keeping and accounting and more.

“You end up with a six-inch thick binder that is your user guide,” says Birrer. “You figure out how to make the numbers work. Plus, you end up connecting with a great group of dynamic people.”

Birrer credits advisors Uri Kushner, who is a former restaurant owner with a wealth of knowledge of the food business, including distribution and packaging, John Henry Wells, who is a food technologist, and Marquez-Oldham, who advises on branding, business vision and meets with participants in scheduled one-on-one coaching sessions.

For Birrer, the launch of her bakery re-affirms her sense of “dreaming, envisioning and then making it happen.”

The next 12-week session of “Getting Your Recipe to Market,” produced by Portland Community College’s Small Business Development Center and the Food Innovation Center with sponsorship from New Seasons Market, begins Tuesday, Sept 9. The class meets weekly from 6 to 9 p.m.

This program is designed to provide food entrepreneurs with a solid foundation in business development, organizational development, product development and food safety, as well as packaging, production and distribution. Developed by the SBDC and the Food Innovation Center of Oregon State University, the program combines the talents of SBDC instructors, business advisers and food professionals to provide a rich learning environment; one that creates a foundation for the entrepreneur.

Workshop sessions engage the entrepreneurs in considering the complexity and inter-relationship between business planning, product development and launching of a product in order to produce, promote and profit from a recipe and a food concept as a food entrepreneur.

Program cost is $1,995.

Contact the SBDC at (503) 978-5080 for more information and other small business development opportunities.

PCC’s Small Business Development Center is part of a statewide network of Oregon SBDCs, www.bizcenter.org, that offer classes, technical assistance, and one-on-one advising for small business. Located at 2025 Lloyd Center Mall, Portland, Ore., it is supported by Portland Community College, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the Oregon Economic and Community Development Department.

Portland Community College is the largest post-secondary institution in Oregon, serving approximately 86,700 full- and part-time students. For more PCC news, please visit us on the Web at www.pcc.edu/news. PCC has three comprehensive campuses, five workforce training and education centers, and 200 community locations in the Portland metropolitan area. The PCC district encompasses a 1,500-square-mile area in northwest Oregon and offers two-year degrees, one-year certificate programs, short-term training, alternative education, pre-college courses and life-long learning.

About James Hill

James G. Hill, an award-winning journalist and public relations writer, has been the Communications Specialist for the Office of Public Affairs at Portland Community College since November of 1999. A graduate of Portland State University, J... more »

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