On the beat

In sync with Synergy Incubators

By Jim Bucher

 Photo: Working at Synergy Incubators; photo: Dolce Photography

Hey, have you guys heard of Synergy Incubators? What? You’ve never heard of Synergy Incubators? Wait, for cryin’ out loud, I’ve never heard of Synergy Incubators. So, we’ll all learn together.

It sounds like a “Sesame Street” episode, but Synergy Incubators is a cool concept.

“We’re a culinary incubator that offers an exciting chance for economic development that draws from and builds on the community’s assets,” said Tonia Fish who is co-founder of Synergy Incubators and board chair.

The idea for an incubator in Dayton came from a need.

“The food sellers at the 2nd Street Market couldn’t find a shared commercial kitchen in order to grow their businesses,” Fish explained. “When we found two unused spaces, we were absolutely deluged with demand.”

Out of great need, Synergy Incubators was born. They provide food business entrepreneurs affordable, professional kitchen space and training programs that help nurture the successful growth of food business in Dayton and the Miami Valley.

“In fact, we believe the key to any community-building initiative is food,” Fish added. “Grow the food business, and you grow Dayton. And it all begins in a kitchen.”

When you stop and think about it, it’s one of those concepts where you say, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Ask any brand new business, it isn’t cheap or easy to start from scratch in today’s shaky economic conditions, especially with a restaurant.

“The cost of hooded kitchen equipment alone is enough to stop most culinary businesses before they start,” Fish said. “Synergy Incubators has an effective, affordable, sustainable solution in place, along with a license, an educational curriculum, a network of food professionals, a fully researched and vetted business plan with letters of support, and, until last week, it had a viable space at 200 S. Jefferson St. for its kitchen, classrooms and a food park for food trucks.”

Recently, the city failed to extend their lease in the downtown location and they’re looking for new space.

“While the reason given was that downtown businesses disapproved of the food trucks, smart business people know that food trucks bring foot traffic and pull dinnertime eaters downtown from the suburbs,” said Fish. “Currently, we’re working with our friends in the community to find a new space as soon as we can. We can’t keep all these entrepreneurs on hold or they will go elsewhere. For example, food trucks that have been trying hard to work within the city’s restrictive rules may just decide to do business in the suburbs, who are very welcoming, if we don’t act fast.”

And speaking of food trucks …

“Every city creates the model of incubator that’s right for them,” Fish said. “Ours includes food trucks, since they are proven to bring vibrancy, animate spaces, develop community and create destinations in fading city centers, according to several important urban studies. And we have some amazing talent on those food trucks – one young chef has cooked at The White House who wants to use food to build community.”

As is happening across the country, the food truck boom exploded here and it was perfect timing.

“As soon as we formed Synergy, the food truck trend that’s been playing across the nation hit Dayton,” Fish explained. “Area food trucks immediately organized and signed up to use Synergy’s space as a commissary and classroom to share best practices. Dozens of aspiring entrepreneurs have already attended Synergy’s culinary business planning workshops. In addition, the general community has enthusiastically embraced Synergy and its possibilities, pouring forth an amazing amount of professional volunteerism. The project has already benefitted from hundreds of volunteer hours and generous in-kind donations.”

And who doesn’t like a good food truck party? Have you been to one yet or experienced one of the many mobile culinary delights? There could be many more, but Fish said she needs your help.

“What we need now is for more citizens to let the city know how important Synergy and a food truck park are to the growth everyone wants for downtown Dayton,” added Fish.

That’s the short-term goal – long-term is already on the menu.

“In 10 years, we’d of course love to be established, training not just entrepreneurs, but maybe the food business workforce as well. We’d love to be helping Welcome Dayton assist food businesses within our immigrant community. In addition, we hope we will eventually be able to bring sustenance to the food deserts in our area, train families how to grow their own food in container gardens, as well as educate lower-income families on the importance of healthy eating and eating as a family,” Fish explained.

Sounds like a pretty tasty plan to me. Don‘t know about you guys, but I’m hungry.



For more information on Synergy Incubators, please visit synergyincubators.com or call Tonia Fish at 937.510.2707.

For more than 25 years, “Buch” has been a local television icon. Known and loved by thousands in the Miami Valley, his followers describe him as trust-worthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and a role model. When it comes to promoting your business, Buch has the ability to grab your customer’s attention. Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.


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For over 25 years, Jim Bucher has been a regionally known and loved local television icon. “Buch’s” followers describe him as trustworthy, fun, the guy next door, a friend and role model. You can promote your business with Buch and grab your customer’s attention! Reach DCP freelance writer Jim Bucher at JimBucher@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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