The Davenport Levee Improvement Commission has approved a new memorandum of understanding with the Quad-Cities Food Hub for use of the Freight House Marketplace.

The Food Hub uses space at the Freight House, where its shared kitchen is part of small-business incubator program that allows businesses not yet established to rent time and avoid overhead costs like purchasing equipment and leases.

As a sign of gratitude for not incurring rental charges, food hub Operations Manager Elizabeth Hogan approached the commission about showing and booking the upper venue of the Freight House as well as opening and closing the space.

"What this allows the Food Hub to do is have an idea of when it's going to be booked so we know when he can get our kitchen renters inside," Hogan said. "Although we can't pay, we can at least help out."

Mayor Frank Klipsch voiced support for the idea, saying he didn't think it was appropriate that those duties were currently falling on commission executive director Steve Ahrens.

The upstairs venue would likely generate rent of at least $2,000 per month plus utilities, but the commission has not yet entertained using the facility in that manner.

"What we want to do is protect their interests as well," Ahrens said. "We could list it right now to be honest and recruit some food or beverage establishment. We have not as a group indicated that was something we were interested in."

The agreement will also help the food hub meet its grant funding requirements.

The food hub receives a grant from the Office of Community Service to pay for salaries, but one of the requirements is job creation.

"We have to create 15 total and we're at 11 right now," Hogan said. "If we have this venue and an employee can show it, clean and lock up the venue, it does create an opportunity for us."

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