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Updated: February 12, 2024

Skowhegan group seeks input on plans to build on region's 'food hub' status

Aerial view of Skowhegan Photo / MXH Marketing Main Street Skowhegan is asking local residents and businesses to complete a series of surveys related to plans to turn the area into an agricultural food hub.

As Main Street Skowhegan works to position the region as a food and beverage hub — a role that could be pivotal to economic growth — the organization is seeking public input via a trio of surveys.

Open to all area residents, businesses, organizations and others, the surveys focus on the use of surplus farm products, enhanced workforce training in the food industry, and the establishment of a downtown food-business incubator and community kitchen.

"We're on a mission to invigorate Skowhegan's food and agricultural ecosystem, and community input is absolutely essential to this endeavor," said Kristina Cannon, president and CEO of Main Street Skowhegan. "The insights gathered through these surveys will not only shape the direction of our initiatives but also ensure that they resonate with and effectively serve our region."

The surveys are being sent out as Main Street Skowhegan raises funds for the Kitchen at 185, which has been likened to South Portland’s Fork Food Lab on a smaller scale.

"We envision the Kitchen at 185 as a catalyst for culinary creativity, entrepreneurship, and the strengthening of our local food economy for all,” said Patric Moore, of the Skowhegan Center for Entrepreneurship. “We want to ensure that it reflects the needs and aspirations of our community.”

He told Mainebiz that the facility is projected to open in early 2025. Funding for the project has come from various sources, including $49,900 from the T-Mobile grant program and a $99,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And Maine Technology Institute provided a $195,000 grant in spring 2023 to cover the purchase of kitchen equipment.

"We've had great momentum and support thus far," Moore said.

Main Street Skowhegan is also a finalist for a $50 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, and will incorporate input from the surveys into the final grant application due in April.

If that grant comes through, it will cover "a whole slew of workforce and economic development projects that are still being finalized," Cannon said.

More information

Anyone interested in completing the surveys can find all three forms here, which must be completed by Feb. 23.  All those who provide their email address in response to any of the surveys will be entered into a raffle for a $100 gift card for a local Skowhegan business.

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