By: Ben Kerrick
Last month, the Town of Unicoi, TN, adopted a new strategic plan for Mountain Harvest Kitchen (MHK), the town’s food business incubator and shared kitchen. The strategy, which will guide the program’s development for the next five years, is the outcome of a planning process led by KK&P.
Opened in 2017, Mountain Harvest Kitchen supports food entrepreneurs by offering affordable access to a 4,000-square foot certified inspected commercial kitchen. MHK has secured nearly $1 million in outside grant funding to support its facility and programs, and over the past two years, it has helped 25 new businesses get their start, resulting in the creation of 36 jobs.
The facility provides a critical resource for new and emerging food businesses in the region. It helps lower the barrier to entry for new businesses and allows growing businesses to scale their operations without needing to invest in costly new equipment or kitchen space. MHK also provides food entrepreneurs with networking opportunities, workshops on business marketing, planning and more. By meeting the infrastructure needs of growing food businesses, MHK is supporting economic development in the region.
The strategic planning process was built around a series of public visioning sessions that KK&P Senior Consultant Ben Kerrick led in Unicoi and nearby Johnson City in July 2019. Ben and MHK Director Lee Manning used the feedback from these visioning sessions to guide the development of an updated mission with clear objectives and to identify effective strategies to pursue those objectives. Ben returned to Unicoi in November to present the completed draft plan.
Even before the official adoption of the plan, MHK was gaining momentum and visibility for its growing program, including a visit from Tennessee Governor Bill Lee.
We at KK&P are looking forward to hearing about MHK’s continued success in the months and years to come.