New location on the plate for food business incubator

Southwest Michigan's food business incubator, The  Can-Do Kitchen, is getting ready to move into its new location in June.

The new 1,360-square-foot space at 507 Harrison Street will allow the kitchen to serve more fledgling businesses -- up to three people at a time can rent one space in the kitchen, says Lucy Bland, program manager.

The new space also provides more storage, an important consideration for small businesses that must buy in bulk to keep their costs down if they are going to realize a profit when they sell their product. Two cooking or baking stations, one packaging station, two dish washing stations, product storage space and office space also are being built into the new location.

Bland says that although it is not the most important aspect of the move, it's critical to note the new kitchen has a bright, vibrant feel that she expects will inspire new business owners. "When they walk in and they feel good in this space it's going to get their creative juices flowing," Bland says.

The Can-Do Kitchen is a low-risk, low-cost environment in which food entrepreneurs can test products, recipes and their own ability to run a small business.

The kitchen furthers economic development in that it encourages new business owners to use local ingredients for their products, and local services for their business needs -- such as those provided by marketing, accounting and packaging firms.

Bland says the kitchen also empowers women as nine of 10 regular clients are businesses owned by women and the kitchen's two graduates are both run by women.

To make the move possible, Can-Do Kitchen currently is seeking nearly $190,000. It already has raised 62 percent of that total or nearly $118,000 through individual and corporate donations. Bland says fundraising is ongoing through meeting with potential contributors. Donations also are being accepted online.

Currently the kitchen rents space in the First Baptist Church in downtown Kalamazoo. The new location, which it will share with the People's Food Co-op, will offer more visibility for the kitchen.

"It will be a plus for us to be next to the Food Co-op, an organization with a similar mission," Bland says.

Writer: Kathy Jennings
Source: Lucy Bland, Fair Food Matters Can-Do Kitchen

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