Business startups have a place to mix spices and tune guitars in the century-old Salina Temple

While people in Salina may see the Temple at the corner of South and Ninth streets as a monument to the past, those who use some of the space in the nearly-century old building see opportunity for the future.

The Salina Innovation Foundation, which has its roots dating back to 2017, is a coworking space that currently has 21 businesses, which use a shared space to work, create, develop and expand into successful and thriving businesses in the Salina community.

Mary Landes, the founder and executive director for the foundation, moved to Connecticut after growing up in Salina and began using a workspace called Stamford Innovation Foundation, based out of an old courthouse in Stamford.

When she found her way back to Salina about nine years ago, she thought her hometown could be a great place for a similar space, especially with the entrepreneurial spirit of so many in the community.

“I wandered in (to the Temple) because it reminded me of the space I had been in in Connecticut,” Landes said.

The Masons, who owned the building, offered Landes the entire second floor for rent. Eventually, the group left, leaving the entire building to the non-profit foundation.

“The original intent (of the building) was for meetings and events, so that’s what we’re trying to do,” Landes said.

Finding life in an old building

A variety of businesses have found success in this coworking space, with Landes saying each has found unique ways to use and revitalize the rooms in the building.

“They’ve all taken these rooms, that are a mess, and they’ve all worked really hard to fix them up,” Landes said. “They get a place to get started that doesn’t require a three-year lease.”

Having the flexibility of a shorter commitment allows people and businesses to use the resources they have to try and succeed.

“The idea is that they’re going to stay here for two years or so, and then they would gradually move on,” Landes said.

There are many different options for space and uses at the Temple too. Landes said while one person may rent a large room to repair guitars and give music lessons like Nathan’s Guitars, others may just need to use an appliance in the industrial kitchen like Smokehouse Seven, a seasoning and spice company.

“I could sell to farmer’s markets all day long and make (rubs) out of my kitchen,” said Shannon Luthi, the owner of Smokehouse Seven.

Luthi said having the company based out of the Temple, which has a state-inspected industrial kitchen, allows him to use much larger equipment than the five-quart mixer that’s in his kitchen. Not working out of his home kitchen has other benefits too.

“If you go stick your nose in that closet, that’s what my house would smell like if I did it at home, which gets a little old,” Luthi said.

Businesses start in Salina, expand outside of Kansas

Samantha Prier, lead construction consultant for Vision Construction, works out of the break area in the coworking space at the Temple. Vision, which does exterior restoration for storm and wind events, uses the space in downtown Salina for a base while it is in town working with clients.

The workspace at the Temple can be used by anyone who needs a place to establish work in the community.

Vision Construction uses the Temple as a base for its operations in Salina. The construction company does exterior construction storm restoration in Kansas, Missouri, Colorado and Louisiana. Salina is a prime place for the company, especially with higher-than-normal chances for wind and storm damage.

Samantha Prier, lead construction consultant for Vision, said having a building like the Temple to work out of while the company is in town is a huge advantage.

“We’ve been in and out of Salina since about 2012,” Prier said. “Since we do travel so much, it’s so great to have the flexibility. We can meet with homeowners in their home, but to have a place to land, make sure you get your paperwork done and all that is super helpful.”

One of the things the coworking space at the Temple offers is places to meet like this conference room on the first floor. The Salina Innovation Foundation has 21 businesses that use the coworking space in the downtown Salina building.

The workspace at the Temple not only provides a space but also has important technology amenities for businesses, which benefits a fairly mobile business like Vision well.

“(It’s) nice because otherwise, you’re in the McDonald’s parking lot, trying to connect (to internet) and updating your tablet,” Prier said. “And you’re (asking yourself), should I carry a printer around with me?”

This kind of technology and other amenities like event space, mail services, meeting rooms and a kitchen helps start-ups and small businesses. Landes said the Temple will work with anyone and try to meet the needs they have for the space they use.

“If you want a desk, we can get a desk for you,” Landes said. “If you want to just drop in and work wherever you like, we have that.”

Landes said there are currently about three larger spaces available in the workspace, but if someone wants to take up a smaller space, there are ways the Temple can provide a location. For more information about joining the coworking space at the Temple, visit There are many membership options ranging from single, weekly, monthly and yearly rates.