A new facility in Wahiawā will house training programs that will provide participants with an opportunity to create new and unique food-related products while learning critical entrepreneurship skills such as marketing, branding, product development and business management, so they can develop their value-added products. The University of Hawaiʻi Community Colleges will start construction on the Wahiawā Product Development Center (WPDC) in July 2021.
“The Wahiawā Product Development Center will be instrumental in supporting the diversification of our local economy by adding value to Hawaiʻi’s agricultural and food sector industries. It will take the knowledge, creativity, innovation and uniqueness Hawaiʻi offers to the next level, creating a robust workforce pipeline and providing the tools and skills for local farmers and entrepreneurs to take their value-added food products to market and beyond. Bringing this to the heart of Oʻahu achieves a critical milestone for our state in food security and sustainability,” said UH Community Colleges Vice President Erika Lacro.
Participants will have access to state-of-the-art equipment that will help take their ideas to marketable products. Developable products include but are not limited to baked goods, pickled products, ice creams and juices. These products could benefit farmers as entrepreneurs utilize off-grade produce in their recipes and minimize food waste. Farmers can build their customer base outside of traditional outlets such as farmers markets and grocery stores, and sell directly to food manufacturers or expand their businesses.
“Products that are made-in-Hawaiʻi are highly desired worldwide and we have a huge opportunity with the WPDC to capitalize on that global demand. Value-added entrepreneurship is critical for economic recovery as we look to strengthen the agricultural industry and diversify our economy to be less reliant on tourism,” said Sen. Donovan M. Dela Cruz. “Wahiawā welcomes this community investment and looks forward to working with the University of Hawaiʻi in the years to come.”