City approves $600K in funding for local food production hub
City council voted Monday to provide start-up funding for a space that will help local food producers scale up their operation and earn a spot on supermarket shelves.
The Public, whose team has dubbed their idea a “food incubator,” asked for $600,000 from the city to purchase commercial kitchen equipment. Their goal is to equip 15,000 square-feet of the Capital Arts Place with state-of-the-art and government-regulated kitchen space, a brewing area, dry and cold storage and office space. The facility would also feature loading docks, a distribution area, and retail space for markets.
“Businesses, quite frankly, needed this yesterday,” Kirsta Franke, founder of The Public, told CTV News.
Having worked in the industry for more than a decade, Franke has seen many entrepreneurs make popular products that do well at the local level, but fail to reach a larger market.
“They want to grow up, they want to essentially be able to provide their products to a retail environment—Save On Foods, Sobeys, what have you—and we want to make that easy for them,” she explained.
Several councillors said they were comfortable supporting the investment and that it would help to further diversity the city’s economy.
“It's part of a larger economic strategy to leverage food more effectively, as well as creating a great gathering space not only for entrepreneurs, but people interested in food in our city,” added Mayor Don Iveson.
Franke and her partners also hope The Public will encourage more development north of downtown.
The entire project will cost about $3 million.
The Public’s team also applied for funding through the provincial CARES Program Grant.
With files from Jeremy Thompson