STAUNTON -- On Thursday, Governor Bob McDonnell's team announced $250,000 in grants being given out to 11 projects across the state all aimed at strengthening the agriculture and forestry industries.
Two of the grants are for projects in the Shenandoah Valley, including one for $35,000 to go towards developing an agrotourism website for the Central Shenandoah Planning District Commission.
The other grant is for more than $10,000, and for developing a study looking into opening a shared-use kitchen in Staunton.
According to local food growers, a shared-use kitchen is one that licensed by the state and can be rented out by food entrepreneurs.
After making food there, producers could go on and sell their products to restaurants or at farmers' markets.
Christina Cain, the Executive Director of the Staunton Creative Community Fund, says the kitchens serve as a way for food entrepreneurs to get started.
Between the costs of items and either buying a restaurant or large kitchen, starting up a food business can often be expensive.
She said the cost alone is what can normally drives people out of pursuing their dreams in the food business.
However, having a shared-use kitchen in Staunton could give those people a chance without having them invest so much.
Cain also says that making the area attractive to entrepreneurs can end up helping the Shenandoah Valley in a big way.
"Right now, food it hot. This is the perfect time and spot. Having commercial kitchen space to get those entrepreneurs started is a no-brainer," Cain explained. "If and when it happens, which I think it will, we will really put Staunton and the Shenandoah Valley as a food destination."
The grant money from Governor McDonnell's office will allow the city to look into possibly building a shared-use kitchen in the area.
Cain says the next stop will be to look into a possible location for a shared-use kitchen, and the demand for one.
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