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The Steinbach Legion Hall is getting some new equipment in its kitchen, thanks in large part to a grant from the provincial government.

Manitoba Agriculture is investing in eight community centres across the province. Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler has announced more than $84,000 to purchase and install commercial-grade kitchen equipment to support local entrepreneurs.

The Steinbach Legion Hall is being given more than $14,300 to help pay for a large commercial oven and two convection ovens.

"We are absolutely ecstatic about this," says Past President Bill Richards.

He says they already have a commercial kitchen, but this improvement provides a very significant service for anyone wanting to rent out the space.

"With this funding, our government is investing in the future of food innovation, product development and Manitoba's entrepreneurial spirit," says Eichler. "Community centres are often the launching pad for new food products, giving Manitobans access to the space and equipment needed to grow from a home-based business into something more."

"Manitoba Agriculture has been very supportive of our Legion Branch because commercial kitchens in the southeast are few and far between," says Richards. "We're only one of maybe three or four."

This announcement comes on the heels of a previous commitment by the province worth approximately $20,000 to the Steinbach Legion Hall. Using that money, the Legion was able to purchase a commercial mixer, a standup freezer and equipment for making perogies and buns.

Richards says the new equipment will not result in higher rental rates, but he says it will almost certainly increase the number of rentals.

"Since the acquisition of the first set of equipment, we've had three individuals enter into a short or long term contract with us, using the commercial kitchen," he says. "There is no doubt about it we're going to see an increase in rentals."

And Richards says once people start renting their commercial kitchen, they will come to realize that the hall has everything they need to run a full event. Richards says this too should increase overall rentals.

According to Richards, the way these grants work is the Legion Hall will need to provide the initial 25% to fund the purchase, with the province paying the remaining 75% once the equipment is installed.

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