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Shoal Incubator Program a Model in Federal Study

FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — Chequetta Shaw believed she knew about cooking before she trained at the Shoals Culinary Center.

“But I didn’t,” Shaw said, while chatting Tuesday with an Appalachian Regional Commission official. “There’s a whole lot of knowledge provided by this program.”

She said the center gave her more than a jump on life. “Y’all gave me a good leap.”

Fellow student Rashard Campbell echoed Shaw’s comments.

“I did culinary studies in high school, but coming here improved all my skills,” Campbell said.

The comments brought a smile to Earl Gohl, federal co-chairman for the commission.

“When anyone asks, ‘Why do federal funds matter?,’ this is why federal funds matter,” Gohl said. “It changes people’s lives.”

Federal funds helped create programs such as the culinary center and its parent program, the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center. Today, 20 percent of the center’s annual $500,000 budget comes from various sources such as grants and 80 percent is self-generated through rent and service fees.

The entrepreneurial center is one of the models used in a book from the National Business Incubation Association that discusses the importance such entities have on a community when they properly are planned and operated.

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