By Reader Staff
After 18 months of planning, development and fundraising, the Bonner County Economic Development Corporation now has all the ingredients to begin construction of Kitchen Ponderay, a commercial kitchen space.
The 1540 sq. ft. kitchen will be located at the Bonner Mall in the site of the old Hideaway Lounge. Construction will begin next week. No target date has been set for a grand opening yet.
With the kitchen equipment from the original Sandpoint Incubator kitchen to be used as a starting point, the BCEDC has been working to raise the funds necessary to complete the design, engineering, construction and installation of what will be an efficient and modern commercial kitchen.
When the BCEDC received the lead grant from the Northwest Business Development Association, the organization’s executive director, Paul Kusche, knew it was time to make the all-out effort to complete the project.
“Perseverance pays off,” Kusche said.
With six grants completed and received plus the support from the Bonner County commissioners, the city of Ponderay and the Panhandle Area Council, funding fell into place this week.
The facility will be open and available for rent 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Kitchen Ponderay will be accessible to all interested food companies, caterers, farm-to-market preparers and education programs including UI food services and extension programs and high school culinary programs.
With no geographic restrictions on its use, Kitchen Ponderay expects to attract businesses from Bonner, Kootenai and Boundary counties as well as western Montana and eastern Washington, Kusche said.
Kitchen Ponderay, while it is an Economic Development Project of the BCEDC, will be operated and managed by Kitchen Spokane. Kitchen Spokane is the perfect partner, said Kusche. With experience in operating Kitchen Spokane and Kitchen Coeur d’Alene as 501(c)3 not-for-profit organizations, it is logical to have the same model throughout the region.
“Nonprofit commercial kitchens allow food entrepreneurs to start up their businesses at a fraction of the cost and helps them maximize profits when they need it the most,” said Jayme Cozzetto, executive director of Kitchen Spokane and Kitchen Coeur d’Alene.
Kitchen Ponderay will be a natural extension of our affordable model, he said. Kitchen Ponderay, like our other facilities, will be a certified facility where new food companies and others can operate under their personal licenses.
“With the support of the skilled chefs, we hope they will create food products that may one day result in them being one of the top chefs in the region,” he said.
Kitchen Ponderay will also be community-minded.
“We believe in supporting our local community and have an established Feed-The-Needy program,” he said. “Once we are established, we work with other volunteer organizations in the region, to provide food and facilities necessary to prepare and distribute meals.”
Construction will also be a Bonner County job creator. The Bonner County EDC, with its focus on creating jobs for the county, will be using local contractors (as much as possible) to complete the project including: Pend Oreille Mechanical, Sandpoint Electric, Wills Plumbing, In and Out Painting, Reader Concrete and Laduca Construction.
The BCEDC wishes to express its appreciation for all the support in this project including:
• Mall space lease
NAI Black Thomas Hix and Bonner Mall ownership – Magnusen Family
• Design Layout
Sayler, Owens, Kerr – Architects – Matt Kerr
• Equipment & Maintenance
Bonner County Board of Commissioners – Equipment and $7,500
• GEM Grant for planning, design and engineering
Idaho Department of Commerce – $15,000
• Equipment, construction and installation:
Northwest Business Development Association – $30,000
City of Ponderay – $3,000 GEM Match
Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad – $10,000
Inland Northwest Community Foundation – $15,000
USDA – Rural – $25,000
Litehouse, Inc. – $500
Avista Foundation – $2,500
Panhandle Area Council – Interim Financing
Equinox Foundation – Request is still pending
The mission of the BCEDC is to support and attract medium to small businesses who are responsible to our community and to support and retain businesses that are the core of the Bonner County Economic System. For more information, log onto www.bonnercountyedc.com.