Asked about his impression of the regional food business incubator, the longtime businessman called said the kitchen is “a really good example of government partnering with communities to create private sector jobs.”
“What’s better than a job coming to Tennessee? It’s a job that is created in Tennessee,” Lee said.
“One job creates another job. When we can incubate jobs, that’s the thing we need to do and I’m very excited to be a part of it.”
Opened in September 2017, the $1.2 million commercial kitchen and food processing facility was built with approximately $900,000 in federal and state grant funding and approximately $300,000 in match funding and in-kind support from the town.
Working in partnership with East Tennessee State University’s Innovation Lab, the kitchen provides instructional programming as well as a variety of commercial food processing equipment, storage area and cooler space to help local food business entrepreneurs launch and further their business ideas.
In Unicoi for Tuesday morning’s weekly Farmers Market, Bite! food truck owners Michael and Chanacee Killgore said the kitchen has been most helpful to their business in its provision of storage area and extra prep space.
Bite! is one of about a half dozen local small business clients that are using the kitchen to meet their production needs.
In his remarks to a crowd of local residents and elected officials who turned out for a morning meet and greet with the governor following the kitchen tour, Lee stressed the importance of similar government partnerships that can impact communities and individual lives.