Grant-funded Commercial Kitchen to Cook up Small Business Support
It's illegal to sell food you make in your own personal kitchen; state and federal food safety laws dictate food has to have been made in a commercial-grade kitchen. It's one of the many obstacles would-be chefs face when starting out.
The expense of establishing a USDA-certified commercial kitchen reaches into the thousands of dollars, but the city of Fort Myers is stepping up to help. The City Council has voted unanimously in favor of a $100,000 community development block grant to create a 5,000 square foot commercial kitchen within the Southwest Florida Enterprise Center, a business incubator on Martin Luther King Boulevard. While this new kitchen space will be used as a place for potential cottage industry culinary crafters to get their start, it will also house classes, certification programs for people entering professional kitchens, and SNAP participant classes on healthy eating. The University of Florida's IFAS Extension will partner with the Healthy Harvest Community Farms and The I Will Mentorship Foundation to make all this happen.
Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. on Gulf Coast Live, Southwest Florida Enterprise Center director Michael Love will talk about the planned programs and what a commercial kitchen incubator can do for burgeoning businesses in Fort Myers.