UPDATE: Unicoi's Mountain Harvest Kitchen, food business incubator for local entrepreneurs
UNICOI COUNTY, Tenn. - The town of Unicoi's mayor, Johnny Lynch, predicts great success for a new food business incubator in town. It's increasing opportunities for local food entrepreneurs who want to start their own business.
"Mountain Harvest Kitchen is a food business incubator. We're here to work with entrepreneurs to build their food businesses. We offer workshops for the public to come in and learn culinary techniques, nutrition education, all sorts of programs," says director of Mountain Harvest Kitchen Lee Manning.
Since opening in August, Mountain Harvest Kitchen has hosted more than 500 visitors, worked with 15 entrepreneurs, and held eight cooking workshops.
"A lot of food entrepreneurs are looking to expand their businesses or start start-ups that are looking to legitimize and process legally or in a legitimate way, and so we're here to help them do that," Manning says.
Mountain harvest has already helped establish one new business, Spare Change Foods, hoping to open at a Bristol location in a few years.
"A group that came to us, they were looking to start a co-manufacturing facility, so that means that they are processing for other brand names, so they're making jams and jellies, they're doing really unique products," Manning says.
Mayor Johnny Lynch says the creation of new businesses through mountain harvest kitchen not only benefits the town of Unicoi, but all of the Tri-Cities area.
"Economic Development is really important in this area especially now in light of some of the loss of the rail road and some of the closing of the factories and that sort of things so it's very important to think about the job creation part of it," Mayor Lynch says.
With two major farming companies already in Unicoi, Mayor Lynch believes in a bright future for Mountain Harvest Kitchen, and the businesses that grow out of it.
"I think that this is going to be a huge success, and it's going to be something that's going to benefit our region economically. I feel like years down the road, that this thing will expand," Mayor Lynch says.
For more information, visit the Mountain Harvest Kitchen website: http://unicoitn.net/mountain-harvest-kitchen/