Within a year, you could find your favourite Main St. Local Kitchen dishes in retail stores, thanks in part to a $100,000 FedNor grant.
The funding announcement was made on Monday, April 15, when FedNor revealed that 13 Parry Sound-Muskoka businesses would receive total investments of more than $5 million for a variety of projects. The funds earmarked for Main St. Local Kitchen are coming from the newly launched Women Entrepreneurship Fund, which is part of the federal government’s Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, “a national plan to help women grow their businesses through access to financing, talent, networks and expertise,” according to the FedNor website.
“We are very grateful and honoured to have been the recipient (of this grant),” says Christina Clarke, Main St. Local Kitchen owner with her husband and chef Ryan Clarke. “We have hopes and dreams to expand Main St. Local Kitchen outside of the brick and mortar restaurant into food production and manufacturing.” That will include offering some of the restaurant’s more popular menu items, including gluten-free options, either online or for local retail distribution, and eventually for international distribution.
The grant application process has already given them some insight into how that will roll out.
“When you’re dreaming, you don’t necessarily think about all the little details you might face along the journey,” says Christina. “(The grant application process) was a challenge but it was a really good exercise for us…it was an opportunity to work through the idea and how we would get the concept into reality.”
And it would have been useful even if they hadn’t been the successful applicant, as their intention was to pursue manufacturing and distribution whether or not they received funding. “Not only did it help us work through the process of what steps we needed to take, it has also given us an incredible opportunity to move forward more quickly,” says Christina.
The grant will allow them to engage consultants and determine how and where production will occur, as well as what jobs they will need to create to bring it to fruition, says Christina. “That’s really what we will use the funding for, is to do a lot of the research and development and hopefully that will put us in a good position where we can launch and get our product into the market.”
And they hope that they will be able to launch that product locally within the next 12 months.
“I’m really excited for how this will allow us to grow as a business but also how it might impact our community as well,” says Christina, adding that in addition to job creation, their hope is to grow into a recognized brand that might bring people to the community.
“Our community is very important,” says Christina. “We are family-owned and operated. We take pride in the work we do and the food that we offer our community. We believe in bringing people to the table…we believe in supporting local.”
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