Harbor District Market to expand, offering workforce development and training center

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, October 5, 2022

The Harbor District Market is expanding by opening up the second floor of the building which will include space for workforce development and training center, a kitchen and a commissary. 

Meg Howdy, executive director of the Harbor District Alliance, said the project is meant to be a resource for Beaufort Community College, ECUHealth Wellness Center and the local Cooperative Extension by providing meeting and training space. There will be space for the community college to have classes and a kitchen that ECUHealth and the Agricultural Cooperative Extension can use to educate the community about healthy living and eating habits. 

At the back of the building will be a certified, commercial kitchen where business owners who sell food items in the Harbor District Market can cook or bake in a certified kitchen. The commercial kitchen can also be used by business owners who want to start a food truck or a catering company. The kitchen will be rented out to business owners. 

Construction is anticipated to be complete in the next four months, Howdy said. The project is being funded through grant monies and sponsors. Due rising construction costs, it will take between $400,000 to $600,000 to complete the second floor, she estimated. The Harbor District Alliance has collected just under $200,000 for the project, but still needs to raise another $350,000 to pay off loans for the building and for everything they would like to have on the second floor, she shared. 

In 2017, the Harbor District Alliance purchased the building on Main Street in Washington. They spent 18 months refurbishing the first floor, but had to wait to do the second because the COVID-19 pandemic delayed receiving designs from engineers in addition to increased construction costs. 

Howdy said it’s “wonderful” to know the Harbor District Market is one of the first of its kind in the local area. “We’re really doing something that is completely different from anywhere in the surrounding areas.” 

The benefit of converting the second floor into meeting and kitchen space is that it can help the tourism and hospitality industry in Beaufort County. 

“Everybody wants to come and see the beautiful water and enjoy the great agriculture. Farm-to-table [restaurants] is a big thing for us here in Washington and the surrounding area,” Howdy said. 

The market will be open while construction takes place. The market hosts local vendors whose merchandise is mostly handmade.