Jackson residents looking to start a food business or gain experience in the food industry have new opportunities coming their way. At their Tuesday, March 22 meeting, the Jackson City Council voted to allocate $2.5 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds to a community kitchen and job training center at the City’s Masonic Temple building.
Plans call for renovating the ground and first floors of the 4-story historic building at 145 W. Cortland St. Once completed, the community kitchen will be available for residents needing a space to start and operate a small food-based business. The kitchen will also be used as a job training center to prepare residents for careers in the food industry.
City administration says a non-profit organization will be started to operate the kitchen and training center. The former Masonic Temple facility was bought by the City in 2017. Since then, extensive renovations have taken place to get it ready for future development. The adjoining Vermeulen’s Furniture building on W. Cortland was sold by the City in 2020 and redeveloped as the new home of the Jackson School of the Arts.
Mayor Daniel Mahoney says this is an exciting opportunity for Jackson. “The development and investment to build the community kitchens is more than just an investment into the Masonic Temple, it is also an investment into the development of existing and aspiring food businesses in the City of Jackson,” Mayor Mahoney said.
There is no timeline for when construction will start at the building. The City of Jackson received $31 million in ARP funds in July 2021. Since then, more than $10 million has been allocated to gun violence reduction efforts, public safety improvements, affordable housing initiatives and infrastructure overhauls. Residents can track this spending through the American Rescue Plan section of the City's website.