Local leaders, board members, and stakeholders gathered to celebrate a grand opening of the Business Technical Assistance Center’s (BTAC) remote workspace and commercial kitchen on August 23, 2021, in Price, Utah. As Stephen Lisonbee, Senior Advisor for Rural Affairs, said at the event, “The kitchen is the unsung hero.”
The commercial kitchen will fill the need for small food-service related businesses to operate with low risk at a low-cost. The kitchen will also support job growth, creating many part-time job opportunities in a high unemployment local market. The primary renters of the commercial kitchen will be from Carbon and Emery county, although neighboring San Juan and Grand Counties are welcome to rent the space.
This project was made possible through a combined effort with Utah Coal County Strike Team, United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development (USDA RD) and the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments and the Southeastern Utah Economic Development District (SEUALG/SEUEDD).
Before the community kitchen was created there was no facility in the region for “foodpreneurs” to experiment with their culinary aspirations and develop at a low cost. The board realized the need for a commercial kitchen and determined that it was time to take action. In March of 2020, the governing board of the BTAC applied for a USDA RD grant, to assist in renovating an existing insufficient kitchen space in the BTAC for a commercial kitchen.
On June 16, 2020, a grant in the amount of $50,000 was approved, combined with $4,000 in matching funds to use towards the project. The renovation soon began to transform the kitchen space into leasable, commercial kitchen. As the project progressed, an economic crisis during a pandemic caused a rise in material and equipment costs, creating a budget shortage. Utah Coal County Strike Team came through with additional funding of $60,665 to complete the project.
Some of the upgrades include:
Commercial Kitchen Requirement Improvements to meet code:
- Ventilation system for oven/stove exhaust
- Third Sink for food preparation
- Commercial ovens & stoves
- Commercial refrigerator/freezer
- Plumbing upgrades
The Business Technical Assistance Center (BTAC) has been a part of the community in Price, Utah, since 1993. The business center has provided opportunities for small businesses to develop and grow through low-cost rental space and loan funding availability. In Carbon and Emery counties, the need to strengthen the local economy has been significant due to the decline in the area’s energy extraction industry over the past few decades.
The creation of the commercial kitchen gives this community a running start as food service businesses enter the market, giving them a strong foundation to thrive in a growing rural economy.
Perhaps it was best said by Governor Spencer Cox in his closing remarks at the grand opening, “Ideas need to function, and this is the best place to do this.”