2014 | Dine

Montgomery Kitchen Incubator Enters Planning Stage

County chooses two partners for "mothership of food entrepreneurs"

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Union Kitchen (pictured above) is a kitchen incubator in D.C. and its operators will help Montgomery County set up its own incubator

Screenshot via Unionkitchendc.com

Montgomery County has chosen two partners to begin planning a “kitchen incubator” to provide business training and commercial kitchen space to budding local culinary entrepreneurs.

The county is partnering with Union Kitchen, which runs a for-profit commercial kitchen space in the District, and Streetsense, the Bethesda-based design and development firm, to plan how the incubator will be set up.

The two partners will create the operational model for the kitchen and also figure out how it will interact with existing county food educational services such as the Marriott Teaching Kitchen at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, according to Dan Hoffman, the county’s chief innovation officer.

“We want it to be like the mothership for food entrepreneurs,” Hoffman said.

Hoffman said the idea is still in the planning stage, but the goal is to find a 10,000-square-foot space in the county to set up the incubator and then determine how many potential businesses to admit.

He said the county’s incubator will differ slightly from Union Kitchen’s for-profit model, which leases space in its kitchen to about 60 members on a per month basis. Hoffman said the county plans to provide programming and support for the space, although a private partner will operate it. “We see the incubator as being the centerpiece of a much larger network of facilities and programs that benefit food entrepreneurs.”

County Executive Isiah Leggett is scheduled to provide more details about the incubator at a press conference Wednesday at the Universities at Shady Grove.

“This facility will foster the growth of small businesses and provide workforce opportunities for our residents,” Leggett said in a statement. “Part of what makes this project so special to me, personally, is that it represents our commitment to creating economic opportunities for all facets of Montgomery County.”

Hoffman said when the incubator was first announced in July that the county is looking at the project as a way to help residents with limited financial resources explore food-related business ideas.