Support services for the food businesses include specialized training, product development, pH testing, regulatory assistance with NMED and FDA requirements, business development and cooperative marketing assistance. Over 85 community members have graduated from TCEDC's specialty foods course, "The Food Sector Opportunity" program. This course offers participants the basics of the history and culture of food in Northern New Mexico, food safety, packaging, labeling, government food regulations, and specialty foods product development and marketing.
The Food Sector Opportunity Project began in February 2000. This project provides not only access to the Taos Food Center, but the technical training that is necessary for food processing, support of other food processors, and support services from the TCEDC staff to succeed in developing a business or job in the food sector. The core of the project is a week long, 30 hour class covering all the basics of food processing, from the history and culture of food in Northern New Mexico to microbiology and food safety. The course also covers basic small business skills and computer skills for food entrepreneurs. Guest instructors and partners in the project include: The food technologist from New Mexico State, NM Environment Department, La Plaza Telecommunity, and FDA regional staff.
Cooperation also describes the other elements of the Food Sector Opportunity Project, the cause-marketing campaign. Existing business and new graduates of the program got together and created a logo, slogan, and marketing plan for a cooperative marketing campaign that highlighted the causes that the Taos Food Center and its tenants exemplify. Out of this effort came the beautiful "Oso Good Foods" logo with labels and marketing material that tell the "Oso Good Foods" story. The "Oso Good" phrase was chosen to reflect the delicious and all-natural nature of Northern New Mexico Foods and "Oso" (Spanish for bear) for the bears that roam the mountains around Taos. The marketing campaign includes "Oso Good" stickers for all products of participating businesses and special "Oso Good" display shelves at local retailers.