A groundbreaking for the Mountain Harvest Kitchen at Unicoi was held Friday morning.
The Town of Unicoi, in cooperation with the East Tennessee State University’s Innovation Lab and numerous regional and federal organizations are taking on the project to support the development and growth of local and regional food businesses.
The 4,000 square-foot facility will include a commercial kitchen and processing facilities, a research and development lab, receiving area, walk-in freezer and refrigerator, dry storage and office space.
City recorder with the Town of Unicoi Larry Rea said the Mountain Harvest Kitchen supports the local food and farm-to-table movements to spur both business and job creation. He hopes the finished product will prove to be a great asset for entrepreneurs in Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina.
“Some people dream of having something like this on even a smaller scale, but they don’t have any way to find somebody that has the equipment that can do it and also be inspected and so forth,” Rea said.
The facility located at Exit 32 off Interstate 26 in Unicoi will be available for rent 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is the only one of its kind in a 50 mile radius.
ETSU’s Innovation Lab will work closely with clients to start their businesses with reduced overhead costs.
“People can come in and learn how to run a business, maybe graduate from the business, meaning they’re too big for the operation here and they could go on their own, which is kind of the idea,” Rea said.
Construction on the kitchen will begin this Monday, July 13. Rea said phase one of the project is expected to be completed in 90 days and will include renovations to the roof and the interior of the building that already stands at that location.
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