Motivators Not Just Inspectors

Submitted By

Kate Carlson
Wood County Health Department, Wisconsin
August 7, 2013

In the past, when someone wanted to open a small scale food business, I would mail the multitude of codes, applications and requirements. I realized that I could be an asset instead of a barrier to them. I became their open hand to guide them through the process.

I know there are 10-20 people interested in starting a new food business and I also know that there are kitchens available all over the county for use. We just have to hook up these interested entrepreneurs with these struggling businesses and make a win win for both groups. I contacted the area chambers of commerce and we have developed a committee of local Gov., chambers, score members and interest parties. We are trying to simplify the entire start-up process. We are taking questions from the interested parties, finding out the legal questions, educating the interested parties and we are matching people and facilities up as we speak. We are developing a checklist of resources so if anyone comes to any of our offices we are saying the same thing. We know the names of the contacts at the other agencies so we can personalize the process. Six months ago I didn’t know that funding existed for these people now I can refer them to many options. Everyone involved is on the same page and working together to improve the local economy.

I think all health and building inspector should be trained to be more educational. I think Chambers of Commerce need to talk with local building and health inspection, to make this start-up process easier for everyone country wide. Most people don't know that a licensed food facility can be utilitzed and licensed by several people. We can share resources already available in our communities. In our committee each of us holds a different key that is vital to these businesses, and now we are all on the same ring. We are available, educational, and consistant. We know that negative reinforcement works with some things, but not education and the economy! We need to tell people what works and what their options are not just the barriers. I am not talking about bending the rules or ignoring code, I am talking about being personable, professional and helpful! I am sick of the negative connotation that comes with working for the government, let’s show them we are here to help!

As a result of this program, we have made great business connections. Everyone involved cares and these start up business feel it. We have started an initiative that will help new food businesses for years to come. I want all other Cities and Counties to understand, how easy this was to do, how litttle time it took, and how big of an impact it can have. Our hope is to get people to pay if forward. Struggling start-up businesses can be taken under the wing of an already successful business, use their kitchen at a seperate time with their own seperate license. They can prove to banks and lenders that they can run their own business. Then they can get a loan and do it their own way. Then when they get their business up and running they can give someone else the same opportunity.

If you have an idea bring it up. It could make a difference!

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