WILLIAMSBURG -- University of the Cumberlands announced last week a host of new businesses, collectively called Marketplace on Main & 3rd, opening early next year in downtown Williamsburg. Located on the 300 block of Main Street (former Faulkner Furniture property), Marketplace on Main & 3rd brings attractive shopping, dining and food experiences that will draw community members, tourists and students.

Included in the Marketplace are a general store, coffee shop, butcher shop and business start-up incubator.

The general store, called Moonbow Mercantile, will sell local crafts and ice cream. Owned and operated by Williamsburg resident Sky Marietta, this will be Moonbow's second location in the region.

Moonlight Meat Shop, owned by Williamsburg resident and local butcher Anne Bays, will sell fresh local meats and cheeses, sauces, and cooking accessories.

The coffee shop, Cumberland River Coffee, will be operated by Pioneer College Caterers and feature a Kentucky Proud independent coffee brand.

University of the Cumberlands' Entrepreneur-in-Residence Geoff Marietta is overseeing the development as well as the business incubator space, which will provide work stations and a conference room for budding entrepreneurs. Marietta will use the space to aid in the development of other small businesses in Williamsburg and the local region.

Marketplace on Main & 3rd was made possible by significant investment in the downtown of Williamsburg by University of the Cumberlands. The school purchased the former Faulkner & Taylor furniture store in December 2017 with the long-term goal to help support the local economy and improve students' experiences while on campus. While the first floor of the property is dedicated to commercial space, the upper floors will be used for student housing, directly connecting students to a downtown residential experience.

Dr. Larry Cockrum, president of University of the Cumberlands, explained, "We believe a thriving downtown will help us attract students and promising new hires, provide great local shopping and dining options, and contribute to local community leadership and entrepreneurship. We also hope our investments in the downtown create real-world learning experiences for our students."

Similarly, Anne Bays and Sky Marietta, both born and raised in Appalachia, are excited to showcase the best of local crafts and food and serve as role-models for aspiring women entrepreneurs. They both hope their businesses will serve as inspiration to other entrepreneurs in the area.

Bays, who is very active with the local Future Farmers of America (FFA), said, "I'm passionate about local food, and I want to do whatever I can to share that passion with young folks. The very future of our food supply depends on it!"

Marketplace on Main & 3rd is nearing the end of renovations with staggered soft openings of the businesses occurring in January. A grand opening and ribbon cutting date will be held in the months following.

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