By Cameron Rasmusson
Sandpoint officials took a necessary step Wednesday in the process of implementing a new commercial kitchen.
Council members approved an action to sign over the kitchen equipment, once housed at the Bonner Business Center, to Bonner County. The transfer will require a mutual agreement from the Sandpoint City Council and the Bonner County Board of Commissioners. Once all the legal steps are complete, a public hearing and a final council decision will finalize the transfer.
The Bonner County Economic Development Corporation organized the effort to restore the commercial kitchen for culinary entrepreneurs, a process that required cooperation from the Sandpoint Urban Renewal Agency, Bonner County, the Bonner County Fair Board and the city of Sandpoint.
The project was previously on hold while the Economic Development Corporation measured public interest in re-installing the kitchen. The Bonner County Fairgrounds will provide space to open to the kitchen to the public once again. If all goes smoothly, organizers plan to begin construction this spring.
“Providing a leasable kitchen facility – one that’s FDA approved and capable of handling refrigerated, frozen and cooked products – would be a great asset to Bonner County and our surrounding communities,” BCEDC director Paul Kusche said in a statement.
In its original setup, the commercial kitchen was installed at the Bonner Business Center as an option for small, food-based businesses. However, in a bid to keep biomedical device manufacturer Lead-Lok from leaving town, the city agreed to let the business expand into the entirety of the Bonner Business Center rather than lose a large local employer.
Records show that more than 30 small businesses used the kitchen between 2010 and 2013, where it was used to produce everything from pizza products to premium granola to fruit cordials. Kusche hopes to bring back several of those original users as well as attract new entrepreneurs with an idea for a delicious and marketable product.
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