Unicoi Announces New Programs under Recently Awarded Rural Business Development Grant


A northeast Tennessee town is putting federal grant dollars toward entrepreneurial training. The town of Unicoi was awarded a $20,500 grant from USDA Rural Development for entrepreneurial training programs for food-related businesses. The town has scheduled a series of workshops for food-based business owners beginning this fall at the Mountain Harvest Kitchen and continue through the spring of 2019.

The Mountain Harvest Kitchen is a key element of the Town’s commitment to creating new opportunities for the community to grow and thrive through economic development and job creation. This shared-use certified commercial kitchen works with budding food businesses and provides hands-on assistance during their vulnerable start-up period.

“The reality is that starting a food business is challenging,” says Lee Manning, Mountain Harvest Kitchen director, and “We’re here to help every step of the way, whether that’s making connections, providing the tools, or facilitating the training for our business owners to better meet their goals.”
The workshop series, Manning says, was designed to enhance entrepreneurial development. Workshop partners include the University of Tennessee Center for Profitable Agriculture, University of Tennessee Extension, University of Kentucky Food System Innovation Center, University of Georgia Department of Food Science and Technology, and the Specialty Food Association trade organization.

Unicoi Mayor Johnny Lynch says. “This is what it is all about: investing dollars into our workforce development and creating opportunities for our entrepreneurs, farmers, and community members.”

Program Schedule:

The Domestic Kitchen Training—November 15, 2018
• University of Tennessee Extension
• Recommended for all Tennessee food producers wishing to manufacture safe food products from their home.

The Specialty Foods Workshop—January 24, 2019
• Specialty Food Association
• For packaged food producers and value-added products. This course will review the specialty food landscape and offer advice on selling to distributors, supermarkets, and managing brokers.

Food for Profit—February 12, 2019
• University of Tennessee Extension and Center for Profitable Agriculture
• Intensive seminars for beginning farm and food businesses, review the realities of starting a food business from marketing and financing to food safety and packaging.

The Science of Flavor: How to make a better product—March 14, 2019.
• The University of Georgia Food Science and Technology Department
• Food Product Development training program introducing beginning entrepreneurs to food science concepts as a tool for improved product quality and product development.

MarketReady Training Program—April 11, 2019
• The University of Kentucky Food System Innovation Center
• This training is for beginning farmers and food entrepreneurs who are interested in learning more about the marketing principles needed to sustain their business.

All workshops will be located at the Mountain Harvest Kitchen, 105 Unicoi Village Place Unicoi, TN.

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