Salmon Arm Economic Development Society is hoping to stimulate growth in the local food and beverage industry by creating a “food hub.”
The hub will provide a shared commercial production space to help entrepreneurs launch new ventures or expand existing production.
The space is meant to help entrepreneurs who may not have the capital to create their own production space.
“This shared use opportunity really reduces some of those overhead costs. It also develops a great community and a network to support those businesses,” said Lana Fitt, Salmon Arm Economic Development Society’s manager.
The hope is that the facility, which is expected to open next year, will lead to new products being developed and new businesses and jobs being created.
A location still needs to be finalized for the 5,000-square-foot production space.
The project is getting off the ground thanks to $500,000 in provincial funding but the hope is that user fees will allow the space to be financially self-sustaining after two years.
The food hub concept is appealing to local Elderberry producers Jed Wiebe and Louise Lecouffe.
The pair grow acres of elderberries on their Salmon Arm farm and turn the fruit into roughly 4,000 bottles of syrup each year.
“Right now we rent a small kitchen and we do our bottling there. It’s really great for now, but our business is growing and we are definitely going to out grow it very soon,” Wiebe said.
While they’ve looked into building their own commercial kitchen for their growing business, using a shared food hub for production makes a lot more sense for their business, financially.
“I’m just really excited. It’s the right time for a food hub in Salmon Arm,” Lecouffe said.
“People want more locally-grown food. There is a need for it and there is a lack of infrastructure for people like ourselves to take our business and do more processing.”
The elderberry farmers are hopeful the hub will also encourage businesses to share knowledge as well as the production equipment.