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Jackson City Council earmarks money for restaurant incubator at Masonic Temple downtown

Jackson Masonic Temple
City of Jackson
The city of Jackson bought the four-story Masonic Temple in 2017. Now, the City Council's allocated $2.5 million to turn part of the downtown space into a restaurant incubator with a culinary training program.

The city of Jackson plans to create a community kitchen where small-scale businesses can lease cooking space.

City Council voted Tuesday night to allocate $2.5 million for the project using federal pandemic relief money from the American Rescue Plan Act.

The incubator will be housed inside the city-owned Masonic Temple downtown. The city has already spent about $2.1 million to rehabilitate that building since purchasing it in 2017, Jackson spokesman Aaron Dimick said.

Vice Mayor Arlene Robinson hopes the project gives a boost to entrepreneurs who would otherwise lack opportunities.

“I do feel there are several people, many of them people of color, that could take advantage of that and the opportunities to expand their business or prepare their meals in a commercial kitchen versus their kitchen at home," Robinson said.

There's no timeline yet for when renovations will begin to make the Masonic Temple ready for a restaurant incubator. Officials also plan to start a training program at the site, where locals can learn culinary skills.

The city anticipates either creating a nonprofit or contracting with an existing nonprofit to manage the endeavor, Dimick said.

Jackson's received a total of $31 million from the American Rescue Plan and those funds can be used for a broad range of purposes. That includes fostering economic recovery from the pandemic through assistance to small businesses and hard-hit industries, according to the Government Finance Officers Association.

Sarah Lehr is a politics and civics reporter for WKAR News.
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